Friday, December 30, 2011

Broken People

It was at Christmas, several years ago, that we came home from the hospital broken, not just in body, but in spirit. Even though we had cried out to God earnestly, we thought we might lose our youngest daughter.

Three days earlier we had driven to the emergency room, my heart in my throat as I poured out my frustration in anger to a God that seemed silent.  By the time we got there, the tears I'd tried to hold back began to trickle out into the open and others in the waiting room noticed, graciously letting us go first.

The entire family had been sick almost all of December with a severe case of the flu and we watched helpless as Summer became more and more lethargic, losing pounds rapidly from her already petite 2 or 3 year old body. Now her ankles began to swell.  It was painful to see her so unnatural, so not herself, for normally such a happy child, so very light on her feet, and quick to make others smile.

Many doctors and specialists later, we discovered she had a bone infection in her hip along with dehydration and the flu.  We wrongly assumed our church family would each be too busy with their own Christmas celebrations and so did not ask for help or let our needs be known. We didn't want to interfere on everyone's special family time. . . therefore, we felt very alone. Added to that, we had not been well enough to prepare for Christmas and it hurt to see the disappointment in my older children who had been so patient and flexible throughout the ordeal, go without Christmas.

The bone infection took months with strong medications to heal.  We had to start all over with potty training and even coax her to walk again.  She had to be carried everywhere we went, in just a certain way.  But our entire family continued to be sick, taking turns, passing it on from one person to another. It dragged on for months . . . Jan., Feb., and even into March.  It seemed we could never get well.

In exasperation I cried out to God and told Him I was so sick of being sick. Could He not just heal us?  Surely He was aware of our condition.  And out of the months of silence God finally spoke, "Yes, I'm also so very sick of you being sick . . . spiritually sick."  We were spiritually unhealthy.  God was tired of it, just as I was weary of not being well.  We knew better, but somehow had gotten off track, undisciplined, ungrateful.  Most of all I personally had developed a complaining spirit.

It might not seem like such a big deal to grumble about this or that, after all, I was being honest.  But God takes ungratefulness very seriously.  And I knew the sickness was God's discipline for my critical spirit.  It just took that many months to get it through to my thick skull.  And my children had to suffer for my mess up.  This was a hard one to swallow.

As we step into the new year, so often we focus on dieting and getting physically fit.  But I wonder if we've considered our spiritual health?  I hope I have learned my lesson, but find I often have to be reminded to offer up a sacrifice of praise when I would rather grumble and complain.  This year I plan to choose a grateful heart, and take responsibility for my joy instead of making excuses.  My first step is to tape some verses to the window above my kitchen sink.  There I hope to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ.

And my Summer girl?  She has healed, but seemed stunted in her growth for awhile.  However, you would never know it now, except that we all remember the year the Christmas tree fell over and no one really cared . . . the same year we were all sick forever and a day.  We are well this year but I've never forgotten the time that we weren't.  Thank you, Jesus for physical health--what an amazing blessing we can so easily take for granted. But I remain cautious, for once again I sense the need to pray for spiritual healing.  

I need your discipline, I'm crying out, light the fire in me
I am here to buy gold refined in the fire,
naked and poor, wretched and blind I come,
Clothe me in white, so I won't be ashamed,
Come light the fire again. 
(by Brian Doerksen)

(Note:  Not all sickness is a sign of a spiritual problem.
Most often it is given as a "gift" of rest from our busy lifestyles.)

1 comment:

  1. Such a painful time of learning ... but of God's ultimate goodness, too. So glad this Christmas was more refreshing!