I have been sick. It started last Friday, when I woke up in the middle of the night with my throat on fire. Using the red pepper trick (put a pinch of red pepper in any liquid and drink up), I was able to go back to sleep with some relief. But my symptoms spiraled, and I spent four days in bed with extreme congestion causing dizziness, coughing, fever, and a run on tissue. I tried several over-the-counter remedies, popping allergy medicine as often I was conscious. But there was no relief to be found – my head continued to pound, my nose continued to run, and my lungs continued to heave.
And why do I share my travails? Because God is using them to teach me a few things.
I slept. I took simple medicine. I slept. I took simple medicine. See the pattern? None of my attempts to make myself feel better gave me any kind of long-term or lasting relief. I continued to be miserable, and nothing seemed to be getting better. I may have gotten an hour or two of relief, but my symptoms quickly came back with a vengeance.
Just like things of this world will never satisfy us. 1 John 2:15-16 – “15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”
We can run back to alcohol, to sex, to gossip, to self-pity, to money, to work, to food – again and again and again. But what are we ultimately doing? Giving ourselves temporary relief from our pain, our problems, and our pressures. We are swallowing the pill of self-denial, thinking we will fill whatever hole is in our heart and ease any pain we are carrying. But we are only giving ourselves momentary relief. It is only when we allow God to have full access to our lives that we begin to find peace, joy, and ease.
Back to I slept. Were the over-the-counter options the best that modern medicine had to offer? Definitely not. I had other options available to me. One actually right at my fingertips. I had a prescription for an antibiotic, one of the stronger ones available. In my filing cabinet, ready and able to be filled. Yet I allowed it to sit there, not pulling it out. Why? Was it stubbornness? Was it laziness? Was it denial? Yes to all. I allowed myself to go through four days of misery for no good reason.
Just as we allow our past and our mistakes to drag us down – and keep us there. But God has a different plan for our lives. He wants us to let go of our mistakes and choose to grab onto the grace He offers us. Isaiah 43:18-19 – “18 “Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.”
God doesn’t dwell on our past. God doesn’t disqualify us because of our choices. God doesn’t disown us because of our mistakes. So stop denying yourself the right to be whole. To be happy. To be forgiven. Stop pushing away God’s comfort. Stop thinking you don’t deserve God’s goodness in your life. Stop being stubborn and tuning out God’s grace. Because God wants more for you than regret, pain, and suffering. He wants freedom. He wants peace. He wants wholeness.
Again, back to I slept. The whole time I did things my way, nothing got better. I wasted at least four days being sick. By my own stupidity. Because the longer I refused to fill the prescription, the longer I suffered. For no good reason. Because without it, there was no relief to my agony. Yet relief was within easy reach.
But I needlessly allowed myself to suffer – and it was no one’s fault but my own. Because I had a solution to ease my sickness and I refused to utilize it. Just like God has the solution to everything in our lives. His presence! Psalm 23:4 – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
He is with us, no matter what is going on. He is with us, no matter what choices we make. He is with us, no matter which direction we go. He is with us when we choose to handle things our way instead of His. He is with us when we choose to tune Him out. He is with us when we outright ignore Him. Yet He is always ready to comfort us. To guide us. To heal us. All He asks is that we turn to Him. We choose Him. We reach out to Him. And He always leaves the choice up to us – hoping we will choose wisely.
One more time back to I slept. What was crucial for those first four days? Rest. My body needed to be still. My body needed to relax, even if just for a few minutes. My body needed time with no activity to get to a healing place. Because in rest I would find relief. I would find peace.
But rest feels wrong in our busy is better society. And we need to fight the urge to go and do and be every minute of every day. Because we need to stop every once in a while. Rest is crucial. Rest is necessary. Rest revitalizes. Rest rejuvenates. Rest refreshes. Body, mind, thoughts, and emotions.
And God calls us to Himself to rest. Matthew 11:28-30 – “28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
He beckons to us – come to Me to find refreshing. Come to Me to find wisdom and direction. Come to Me to find ease to your life. Come to Me to exchange your busy for My rest. Come humbly. Come willingly. Come often. Just come to Me. I am always here for you. I am always waiting for you. I will always embrace you. I will always love you.
So I finally chose wisdom and got my prescription filled. And because I did, I finally start to feel better, with relief lasting longer than a few hours. Am I fully recovered? Not quite. Am I wiser for having gone through the experience? Obviously. Because God keeps showing me simple truths, reinforcing that He is always with me. Even when I choose unwisely. Because Paul’s prayer continues to be answered – “[that you] know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). I may not be full of health in this moment, but I soon will be. But I will ALWAYS be full of God’s grace, which will keep me and protect me no matter what I go through.
Marie Fremin, 1/14/179