Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Grace of God in the Stomach Flu

"Be filled with the Spirit...giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:18, 20). 

Over the last few weeks, my wife and daughter have had bouts with the stomach flu and last night it paid a little visit to me. I'll spare you the details but it wasn't fun, well, except for the fact that I lost some quick weight!

Because of this I wasn't able to sleep most of the night but then caught a nap between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. As I was coming out of my slumber, the question came to mind, "Charlie, are you grateful to God for this ailment?" Immediately, in my half-conscious state, I answered, "Yes, I am," and then began to think of reasons why this is so. By the time I was fully awake my heart was alive with the worship of God and I just had to pull myself up and blog about the things that came to mind. With that, here are a few reasons why I'm thankful for the grace of God in the stomach flu: 

1. I'm thankful that God has not allowed me to suffer as my sins deserve. We tend to think that health is a right but it's not. Health is the manifest mercy of God toward sinners. I have enjoyed relatively good health almost all my days so I can not complain or impugn God because I have to suffer a little inconvenience from time to time. He knows the darkness of my sin, both before and after I came to know Jesus, and yet he has showered me with mercy instead of judgment. This little bout of sickness has reminded me of all the health I've enjoyed, and often taken for granted, and I'm very thankful to God for it.

2. I'm thankful to God for his abundant provision in my life: a nice bed, warm blankets, a house, private bathrooms, private bedroom, medicine, Powerade to replace lost electrolytes, wisdom to know what's happening and take appropriate counter measures, and so on. Yes, this is inconvenient. I'll have to cancel a couple of important meetings and I hate standing people up, but make no mistake about it, my life is covered with the mercy of God even though I'm currently down for the count.

3. I'm thankful to God for the people closest to me who love me when I'm down, mainly, my beautiful ladies, Kim and Rachel. Rachel doesn't know that I'm sick yet, but she's always so compassionate and helpful when things like this come along. She's still getting over a very bad bout with this herself so it'll be interesting to see how we hobble through this day together!

But as for Kim--Lord God, bless her heart--she spent the night more concerned about me than the fact that she had to be to work at 7 a.m. and teach a foreign language to teenagers! I literally had to persuade her to go back to bed. Wow, what inspiring self-forgetfulness, what love, what Christ-likeness. I love her so much, and I'm eternally grateful to God for her. I want to be more like her.

4. I'm thankful to God for the people of Glory of Christ Fellowship whom I have the privilege of serving as one of their pastors. My heart ached this morning as I thought of the fact that this slight sickness will keep me from expressing my love and concern for people in way I had planned today and tomorrow. And I am still sad about that, but in the midst of feeling this sadness I praised God because I saw that he's given me the loving heart of a shepherd toward His people. As I lay here, I'm chomping at the bit to be back in the swing of things and do all I can to help the people I love see the love that is there.

5. I'm thankful to God that I have affections for him. I don't take this for granted, and I don't take the glory for it either. My heart is hard and prone to stray every moment of every day, but the grace of God poured out through Jesus Christ bought a redemption for me on the cross that has guaranteed my love for him. So the love I felt in my heart for Jesus this morning was a literal manifestation of the value of the cross, for as Jesus bled and died he purchased my pardon, my redemption, my reconciliation with God, and my growth in him until the day of his second coming. As the old hymn writer so eloquently put it,

Jesus paid it all,
All to him I owe,
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

This is why I have affection for God. It's a sign of Jesus' gracious work in me and so to him be all the glory!

This entry may seem a bit much for a simple stomach flu. It's not like I have cancer or a missing limb or blindness. And yet, as we learn to see the grace of God in little things, we increase the chances that we'll see the grace of God in big things as well. Thus, may the Lord use our trials, big and small, to strengthen our faith and prepare us for that day when the grace of God in Jesus Christ will be brought to us and poured upon us forever! (1 Peter 1:3-12).

Thank you, Father, for your grace poured out this day!

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