There are few more humbling things than being ill. It seems to me when God wants to remind me of how insignificant and helpless I am, he strikes me with the stomach flu.
My dependency has never been so profound. I call my mother and pray she is able to take the kids for the day. If she can’t, movies become the order of the day, save for the point when their energy gets the upper hand and the floor of the house becomes a distant memory. The five-year-old reports that the toddler has decorated my comforter with highlighter. I resign myself to this new fluorescent décor scheme and ask him to dole out apples for a snack. Tomorrow I will find a forsaken core beneath the dresser.
I somehow survive through lunchtime, and Mom comes to the rescue. The house now quiet, I sleep for hours—I assume; time has become a blur, like all the productive things I was going to do today.
Perhaps this is a gift, a chance to catch up on some reading. My efforts remove but a couple of stones at the base of my “To Read” mountain. By the second article, my cognitive abilities are waning. Another nap.
Of the very act of resting my muscles now are weary. I try listening to an audiobook, but my mind disagrees with my restless legs and can’t keep up. (“All I ask,” says my stomach, “is some peace and stillness.”)
The book is John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life.” It’s excellent, but I don’t know if I am capable of fervor today. I had to lean on the counter for support to open a bottle of Pedialyte, and it took all my strength just to get off that foil seal. Merely hobbling to the bathroom was arduous. I am altogether feeble and pathetic.
I know Piper has a companion book titled, “Don’t Waste Your Cancer,” but this is something far less meaningful. If I were thus ailing, I could aspire to live and die well, but, Lord willing, I will be better by tomorrow. My suffering is trivial.
So I pray. Incoherently, and peppered with the processing of my own thoughts and worries, I intercede for a fellow mom whose husband is also in grad school. I ask for grace in her marriage and mine, to weather the stress of these final months of the semester. I pray for our husbands, and my sister, to persevere diligently in their studies. My prayer for Sam especially is that he would be spared from this illness so he can keep on working with the necessary velocity.
And now I write, with no real moral in mind. If you receive any edification from this, it is the Lord’s doing. Truly I accomplished nothing today. Life carried on in my home and around the globe and across the universe and I contributed nothing to it.
“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint…my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws…You who fear the Lord, praise him!…For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.” Psalm 22:14-15, 23, 24
“The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass…Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:7, 28-31