Lessons from the Stomach Flu

Over the course of last weekend and well into Tuesday evening my family was infected with the dreaded stomach flu.  It started with my precious baby girl who I had to watch hold her little belly and say, “my tummy burns daddy, fix it.”  The best way she knew to stop the pain was to put band aids on her tummy, which is exactly what we did.  Then my boy got it, then I did, then my mother who was visiting, and then my wife.  Tossing and turning in a bed for 2 days while throwing up every hour or so leaves you with plenty of time for reflection.  The stomach flu pales in comparison to what so many good people deal with every day of their lives.  Yet, here are a couple of things I thought I would share.

1.  Sin is brutal.  Although I do not think that God placed this awful sickness in my home for several days because of some sin I had committed, there remains the truth that all sickness, disease, pain, and suffering is a direct result of sin and a sin-cursed earth.  And yet, make no mistake, God was at work.  I can’t tell you why He did what He did, but I would be a fool if I did not use this time to reflect, confess, and repent of the areas in my life that are not God-directed.  Sickness is one of the realities in a Christian life that should cause us to long for our heavenly home where sin no longer brings a distortion to God’s eternal plan.  I think of the opening line to one of my very favorite songs called “The Lights of Home” that says, “my heart cries out, oh Lord how long?”    

2.  Health is a gift.  If you are like me, it can become very easy to be a participant in the pity party game when sickness comes crashing down on you.  Health and well-being are daily assumptions made by most Christians as we forget that God owes us not a single thing.  Not health, not the ability to walk, not eyesight, and so forth.  We do right when we thank God for the very air we breathe.  Phil Collins, the great theologian, said it best:  “It’s just another day for you and me in paradise.”  Whether its health or having a job that pays the bills, God is behind every good blessing and we should count it all as a gift.

3.  Band-Aids are not the cure.  My baby girl was very determined to put some Band-Aids on her tummy so it would feel better.  I knew that wasn’t the solution, but I was of course happy to oblige.  As I reflected in my own bed on that difficult night watching my baby cringe in pain, I thought about how often I might also oblige others in my ministry with a Band-Aid cure and how often I turn to a bandage of sorts to fix a much deeper problem.  I am 35 years old.  I have been in full time church ministry for over 12 years.  Every day that goes by I become more convinced that every single issue in our life, from deciding whether our children play on that sports team that interferes with church to dealing with difficult relationships, must be rooted in a deeply biblical, God-centered response. 

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