Posted by: ritagone | January 20, 2016

In Sickness…

You go along for months or even years and you’re never sick. Ever. You get the flu shot because your doctor recommends it, but you haven’t had the flu in decades. And so it goes. Other people around you are sick, with colds or flu or even worse. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve walked alongside friensickness absenceds who have battled cancers in various forms, and I’ve watched as others have slowed down. But not me!! I am healthy woman; hear me roar!!

And then Sunday night, while we were lying in bed watching our usual Sunday TV fare, I started feeling like my head was congested. I started coughing. I started feeling achy. My head was hurting. Even my teeth felt funny. And before I knew it, I woke up the next morning with a full-blown cold…and a headache – another migraine — to boot.

And I turn into the biggest baby ever.

I whine and I slouch over and I make Michael wait on me hand and foot. I think I’m going to die. And sometimes I want to.

And that’s when it hits me: if I, having a cold, a mere head cold, behave like this, how could I ever stand up to a disease that is more life-threatening and serious? Shame on me! I am disappointed and depressed by my behavior, and the worst of it is, I don’t know exactly how to change it. It makes the verse tattooed on my right forearm – Jeremiah 12:5 – come to life in a perceptive way: “If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses?” (NLT) In other words, if you can’t take a cold, if you crumble at the easiest and most transient of illnesses, how would you ever stand up against the worst?

Any ideas out there? I’ve prayed about it, I’ve talked to a few close friends, I’ve shared my plight with my husband. While everyone has his or her own particular theory of how to overcome the weakness of being overwhelmed by disease, none of these action items seem to work for me.

I have managed to deal with severe migraines when I have several every month or so: I take a cold washcloth and go to bed, curled up in a fetal position with the expectation that I will be able to fall asleep and therefore get away from the pounding pain of the headache. And then, I know that the pattern of my headaches is that the next day, when the migraine is gone, I will wake up with no headache and be headache-free for at least a few days, so that expectation keeps me from hitting my head against the wall in the midst of the migraine itself.

But when you’re sick, you don’t know when you’re going to get better…or, in some cases, if you’ll get better. How, then, do you face each new day? How do you get up out of bed and say, “I’m going to make this a good day, no matter what?”

I really would like to know. What have you seen in other people? What have you done yourself?

I know there’s plenty in Scripture to give us guidance and sustenance. I know that praying and asking God for mercy and grace and strength is supposed to help. But what exactly do you fall back on in times like this? What gets you through the night and the day and the next night and the next day?

Maybe we can use this particular post to help one another, because, sure as the sun will rise each day, one of those days is going to include an illness for those of us reading this (unless you get hit by a bus quickly and suddenly, which has its own set of problems!).




  1. Oh dear Rita…..I’m so sorry you are sick…it sure didn’t show up in your lesson Sunday that you were on the brink of a cold. You don’t slow down for much…..I think God is just helping you take a much needed rest.
    I’ll pray for you now & it’s up to you to maybe follow His lead. Love, Harriett

  2. One woman I know who lost her husband and brother (best friend brother) in the same year that she herself was diagnosed with bone cancer and undergoing chemotherapy approached it this way: she said the Lord called her to joy in all circumstances and she was standing in that joy, not allowing Satan to get the glory for pulling her away from faith. Another woman I know who is currently battling lung and colon cancer is determined to take only one day at a time. Any day that she is not affected by chemo/radiation side effects, she bakes cookies for others and says it helps her to cope when she reaches out to help others. She says she does it so that her world doesn’t become all about her and her illness.
    Perhaps the key is not letting illness define you and holding onto the same principles of faith that have carried you through everything else.

    • Oh, Karen, I always look forward to what you will have to say when I write. You come into contact with people in such dire circumsstances and have to be able to say the right thing, share the right verses, be strong for them all. But you also learn from those people, and that’s what makes you a pastor unlike so many. Please keep adding to the discussion here. It is valuable beyond words.

      • Thank you, my always affirming friend. The Lord opens our hearts to listen and learn if we are willing and receptive.

      • Thanks, Karen. Always appreciate your comments, as I’ve said before.

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