I was actually thinking seriously about getting the coronavirus vaccine at the Rite-Aid pharmacy just down the road from my house on Tuesday morning. I had checked online and there were times available. My wife and three girls were in South Carolina for the week and if I had any kind of an adverse reaction I could recover before they returned. But on Monday afternoon I began to exhibit symptoms that I eventually learned was a COVID-19 infection. My two older daughters had “something” the week before while we were on vacation, but it was so slight (I thought) that none of us suspected that it might be the coronavirus. That was the beginning for me of a long struggle for me with fever, chills, aches, coughing, difficulty breathing—the most miserable I’ve ever been with any illness. I finally obtained some help after about 5 days. My family returned the same day. I got a COVID test late that afternoon. The results came by email the following Monday. I had tested positive.
I am in recovery mode now as I write this. I’m not sure I’m out of the woods. My wife is still struggling as well. I still cannot take deep breaths easily. But God is helping me and healing me. And He is helping me pray. He is strengthening my faith in Him.
“As for me, I shall call upon God, And the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, And He will hear my voice.”Psalm 55:16-17, NASB
I have a few thoughts of thanksgiving that I want to record for myself and share with others.
- I am thankful to the Lord for His healing touch and tender care to me as His child. Any sickness in this world is due ultimately to the sin of its inhabitants. I don’t deserve to be healed. I deserve to be sick, to be weakened, to be destroyed. Even if God allowed that, it would be unreasonable to complain. Jeremiah rightly asked, “Why should any living mortal, or any man, offer complaint in view of his sins?” (Lam. 3:39) In spite of my sin, I know my Heavenly Father has loved me in Christ. He has had compassion on me and has cared for me throughout this illness. I am thankful for a Savior who bore all my sins in His body on the tree, by Whose stripes I am healed.
- I am thankful for the love of godly Christian friends, mostly but not all in my church family. Because everything is such a blur, I can’t remember exactly when each of these happened, but on several occasions friends dropped off some food or took care of something for me. In the days of DoorDash and other delivery services you can pay someone to bring you groceries, but you can’t pay for someone to thoughtfully consider what you need when you are ill and drop it off in Christian love. Someone dropped off a bag of Powerade, ibuprofen, bananas, wheat thins. I literally believe the Powerade kept me hydrated early on and kept me from developing a more severe case of COVID. The second time I was the recipient of such a kindness I burst into tears unexpectedly. My heart was suddenly full—both of the kindness of my church family and at the same time the goodness of my God to me. A dear Christian brother came and took a couple of hours to mow and trim my lawn. Another family friend heard we were ill and dropped off some zinc and mandarin oranges. I have had mandarin oranges plenty of times before in my life, but nothing has tasted so good during my illness. God was good to make such a delectable and refreshing fruit and to give a kind friend the heart and thoughtfulness to deliver two big bags of them in a time of need.
- I am thankful for the love of my family. My wife and daughters have been incredibly helpful as they have cared for me during this illness. Refilling Powerade or water, bringing me another applesauce or mandarin orange (the extent of my diet on some days), moving my pillows or blankets, tucking the blanket around my feet so my toes stay warm, trying to keep things quiet so that I could rest, bringing me my medicine, giving air hugs or blowing air kisses because I would cough if I had real ones—all these things and many more than I can mention are the ways in which my family helps me. Love can be shown in many ways. During Covid it could be as simple as hearing one of my daughters say after hearing me go through a coughing fit, “I’m sorry, Dad.” I couldn’t respond, but in my heart it was an encouragement to know that someone cared about me in my suffering.
- I am thankful for my family out of town too. I have the best Mom. When she found out I might have COVID she began regularly texting me notes and asking for updates. She also shared with the rest of my family so that they could know I was ill and pray for me. I know she loves me. The care comes across the miles and through her kind words. Other family members have reached out to me as well-some multiple times—asking questions about how I was doing, sharing encouraging words, and understanding if I didn’t feel up to responding. My father-in-law wrote me a very thoughtful and kind note assuring me of his prayers and love. Over time those kinds of notes are a testimony to a godly life of love that I know he and my mother-in-law live together by God’s grace.
- I am thankful for the sovereignty of God. I have thought many times about why I didn’t get the vaccine earlier, why I didn’t detect the indications of COVID infection in my family members earlier, why the Lord allowed this during and after a family vacation, why, why, why. I may never know why, but I do know one reason why, my God willed for me in His sovereign goodness and grace to endure this time of suffering. For that I am thankful and submit myself to His disposal. He is good. He is God. That is enough.
- I am thankful for joy in suffering. I read a prayer with my wife today titled “Joy” from The Valley of Vision. Near the end there are a couple of lines that express my Christian hope: “There is no joy like the joy of heaven, for in that state are no sad divisions, unchristian quarrels, contentions, evil designs, weariness, hunger, cold, sadness, sin, suffering, persecutions, toils of duty. O healthful place where none are sick! O happy land where all are kings! O holy assembly where all are priests! How free a state where none are servants except to Thee! Bring me speedily to the land of joy.”