“The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” Proverbs 27:7
Whaaa…? Is she crazy?
But I can truly say that I am glad I got the flu this year. I am even thankful for the timing of it. That may be really hard to understand, (especially for my extended family who also got the flu DURING Christmas break with me).
Easy for you to say, you may be thinking. You’re over the bug and I’m still miserable.
Nope. I have been sick since 12/26. That’s right, exactly one month today. My voice is back after five days with laryngitis (a blessed happiness to the boys in my life…all three of them), I can breathe without taking my nebulizer treatment for my asthma every night, but I am still EXHAUSTED. I just can’t seem to shake this all the way.
But, OH! The life lessons! Please allow me share a few with you.
First of all, it always helps with empathy. I don’t typically struggle with empathy, but my hubby will be the first to admit that he’s…well…a BIG BABY when he gets sick with the common cold. So although I try to help him, I am not always the most, “You poor thing,” with him. He knows this, understands why, and we’re OK. But he got this flu the day before me. And I lacked empathy for him for exactly 24 hours…until it hit me. My first thought was something to the effect of, “How is he still ALIVE?!?!” Then my kids got it. So thankful that Shane was a willing guinea pig for all of us. By the time they got it, I was much more lovey and snugly…though when you’re sick it’s a tad harder.
Secondly, my dependence on the Lord grew immensely. And, yes, I had gotten the flu shot. But the CDC basically said, “Our bad…wrong strain.” Typically, when we’re this sick, fevers and all, we all go to the doctor. BUT, (here’s where the timing starts to comes in), we were in Alabama. We couldn’t just go in to see anybody. We had no idea how our insurance would work in another state. We found a couple of providers that might take us, but we couldn’t even think straight to make a decision. So we prayed. A lot. And anointed our kids and ourselves with oil and prayed some more. I was truly expecting instantaneous healing. He’d done it before, and He could do it again. But He chose not to. (More to come on why I think that is…) So we just kept on praying. And sleeping.
As we started to pack the van to drive back to Oregon…from Alabama…by way of Tennessee…with the flu…I was dreading every mile. Except the Grand Canyon. Sick or not, THAT, I was looking forward to. The idea of seeing that beautiful place gave me something to look forward to.
We planned to follow my in-laws up to Nashville and spend a night there so that we could have one last day with them, and see my sister-in-law off, who was flying ahead to Oregon…with a sick baby. It just kept getting better! We had a somewhat enjoyable day, despite our sickness, exploring the Opry Mills mall and eating for the first time at the Rain Forest Cafe. It was fun, but the boys were laying their heads on the table between bites. We were a cheerful bunch to be with, let me tell ya. We said our tearful goodbyes that evening at a Walgreens because we all needed more medicine and Kleenex for the road. Lovely.
Our first stop on the road was going to be to meet with some friends and family in Arkansas. We couldn’t make it. We were so exhausted, we decided to spend the night in Little Rock. We quickly realized the next morning that this was indeed the flu. The news in the hotel lobby was calling it a national epidemic, and we knew we couldn’t knowingly and willingly expose our friends. CANCEL. Boo. But we were so sick, we really didn’t care that that point. We just wanted to get home. But somewhere along the way, the Lord laid James 5:14 on my heart: “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:” and since I knew that it was within our power to still stop in Van Buren, where our friends, ministers, would be, I texted and asked if we could do a drive through prayer with them. This is my third reason to be thankful. The family of God is an amazing and powerful thing. They said they would be happy to and all gathered around our van, anointed our heads and prayed fervently for us. As we drove away, glad to see their faces for just a few minutes even, I was SURE that the Lord would heal us then. But He chose not to.
I was so confused! Lord, why are you not taking care of this? I know you can! How are we going to get home feeling like this??
It was New Year’s Eve and we drove and drove and drove. And we stopped a ton more than planned because we just needed breaks. There were at least two moments on this trip where I wondered if we would ever get home. No drama. I was delirious and serious.
Here’s where the fourth reason starts to flesh out. We stopped at a Pilot station in Oklahoma City. We all got out and got a couple of souvenirs and I remember feeling like a great big germ. My hoodie was up, my sunglasses on (in the evening) and I was FREEZING, (there was snow everywhere.) We were in there for quite a while…everything felt like slow motion.
We finally moved the van to a gas pump and I was going to take a turn driving when Shane came out after paying for gas and said to switch seats because we needed to talk. After getting gas, we pulled back into a parking spot. He said the Weather Channel was on in the station, (I hadn’t noticed), and there was a snow storm headed toward TX, NM, AZ, CO and NV…right. where. we. were. headed. SERIOUSLY?!?! Shane was pained to even say the words, but he was pretty sure that we should go north. And miss the Grand Canyon. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was in tears, and he almost was. What would we tell the boys? (Peter’s hearing aids were likely out and Nolan had a bad ear infection and couldn’t hear us.) We sat in that Pilot station parking lot for almost an hour when all was said and done. But the God who had chosen not to heal us gave us a very clear answer to turn north. So we did.
Here’s why I’m glad we got the flu. Had we felt amazing that night, we both believe we would have chanced the snow and ice. In fact, we likely wouldn’t have stopped in Fort Smith the previous night and would have been far closer to the storm and wouldn’t have been able to easily divert. Oklahoma City is THE place to change course and that is where we were right at that moment.
We drove to Wichita, KS and stayed overnight. That night as we were dosing up with all of our cough medicine, Tylenol and inhalers, I looked at Shane and said, “All of this junk just makes me want to get home.”
The next morning, Shane told me that there were nine fatality crashes on Interstate 40…right where we were headed.
The next day, the toll went up to something like fifteen. And I-40 ended up just getting shut down because it was so bad. Had we not been killed or injured, at the very least, we would have been stuck.
We ended up beating the storm. It hit Oklahoma City the next day. We were north of it the whole time. And the boys got to see some things they wouldn’t have been able to. We took them to Focus on the Family. Peter got to see the Narnia room, which may have just made his whole vacation, and we got to share a soda in Whit’s End Soda shop. They got to see the beauty of Garden of the Gods and we got to eat at Chick-Fil-A one last time.
Friends, the Lord knows what He is doing. He allows all sorts of things to happen that we think are mistakes. Be assured, God does NOT make mistakes. He sees us. He sees our suffering and He has a reason for each tear, each illness, each detour.
When you put your trust in a loving, reliable, all-knowing Father like Him, you can look back at your trials and thank Him for them.
Ever notice how many trials we face in this old world? Does it make you say, “All of this junk just makes me want to get home.” HOME…HEAVEN…is our goal. And if trials make that goal sweeter, then so be it.
Blessings and much love,