So last week I was sidelined by the stomach flu. I woke up during the night on Monday night (early Tuesday morning) terribly, horribly sick. I thought I would feel better after my digestive tract got emptied out--ugh--but instead I just kept throwing up until finally late in the day on Tuesday I was absolutely dehydrated, weak, had strained my abdominal muscles from so much violent action, feverish, and was desperate for some sort of relief. I had tried to take some Tylenol, which was a huge mistake since my stomach wasn't even accepting sips of water, and between 7 and 8 pm I was reduced to tossing and turning on the bed, moaning and praying over and over, "Lord, please help me. Help me, Lord. Help me!"
Yikes. John was understandably concerned, especially since I wasn't even able to keep water down, and we almost went to a little clinic outside our apartment complex gate to get an IV (this country's answer to any sickness). I've never done it here, but I was just about ready to take the plunge. I even tried to call a friend to go with me, but couldn't get through to her and so gave up and just prayed.
Finally about 9pm I was so terribly thirsty, so started to try small sips of water again. John set up the ipod on the bed so that I could listen to worship music, and I made it my goal to get a tablespoon of water into me every half hour. In that way I passed a fitful night, sipping and listening to music and drifting in and out of sleep. But, God, in His mercy and kindness, answered my prayer! I was able to hold the water down and so was relieved by that...so thankful to be able to drink water! By the morning I had gotten down almost a whole cup of water and NOT thrown up, huge progress!
I'm still recovering a bit...after that first crucial night when the Lord answered my prayers (and those of my family and friends here in the city that knew I was sick), it's been better and better each day. I'm eating pretty much normally now and feeling about 75% energy level. Whew, it wiped me out!
After his scare with cancer a few years ago, John Piper came out with an article, "Don't Waste Your Cancer," which was a bit of a take-off from his book, "Don't Waste Your Life." The essential idea is that a cancer diagnosis, terrible as it is, can be an excellent opportunity to trust the Lord, to put yourself again in His hands, to be fully submitted to His will and His plans. So in that same spirit, I thought I'd offer a few reflections: "Don't waste your stomach flu," if you will.
1. Don't underestimate the power of prayer in such a situation. I had the prayer support of my husband and children and several friends here in our city. And though it seems I've had lots of drama in life lately and have been continually calling on my friends to pray for me, there is NO shame in that and in fact it brings glory to the Lord when we call out to Him! I felt so clearly that He showed his mercy and compassion to me when I was able to take that first sip of water that stayed down. My soul praised Him for that answered prayer! Call to the Lord in prayer, even for the stomach flu!
2. Music is a truly healing balm in a situation like that. I couldn't take any medicine, I was throwing up so regularly that I could almost predict it on the clock, and my whole body was tense and hurting. I thought I didn't want the distraction of music, but when John set up the ipod and that first worship music flowed over me, I felt myself relax in a way that I didn't think was possible without medicine. I slept more deeply and my heart was led to a meditative and thankful place even as I had no energy to do that myself. SO thankful for the peaceful, worshipful music that led me into the Lord's presence!
3. Our bodies are amazingly complex, and we are amazingly weak. It was so humbling--it was only my stomach that wasn't working and it laid me flat on my back. The Lord understands the inner workings of our bodies and how it all holds together, but one little stomach bug and I am completely humbled and helpless. A good reminder to depend on Him!
4. What a blessing it is to be able to drink water and eat food! It is truly a blessing to have nourishing food to eat and clean water to drink that sustains our physical bodies. God designed it that way; we are fragile creatures, dependent on food and drink to have energy and feel well. I was so thankful for those first few sips of water to quench my deep thirst!
5. Health is a true gift from God. I am not well acquainted with health problems. I do not have a chronic disease. My children have been basically healthy. But a little thing like this and I could be tempted to complain! Oh, Lord, forgive me! Instead, how I want to have a thankful heart that usually, I am healthy. What a gift it is to usually feel well, to have energy and strength for the tasks of the day and to live for Him. It is not something I deserve, but truly a daily gift from Him. Sickness comes sometimes and has the effect of making me more grateful for good health!
Well, as I'm feeling better this week and easing back into "normal life" again I want to remember what the Lord taught me last week. I don't want to waste the opportunity! There are lots of lessons to be learned and certainly I don't want to go through that again! :) Thanks for joining me along this journey!