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Don’t Waste Your Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Last week my children all came down with the dreaded hand, foot, and mouth disease. If you have never heard of this illness, it is a nasty bug that causes a fever, sore throat, and red sores on the hands, feet, and mouth. Yesterday I got to share in their suffering—at least the fever part—and it kicked the life out of me! The upside to the whole experience is that lying in bed all day with barely the strength to move is an ideal time for reflection. I thought I would share my thoughts in this post.

1. God is God and I am not. I am a weak, needy, helpless creature. I need food, water, oxygen, and the next beat of my heart just to ensure my existence. And I need personal health if I am going to be the least bit productive. I am entirely dependent upon the grace of God and it is in Him that I live and move and have my being (Acts 17:28).

2. My plans are always subject to God’s sovereign plan.  I like to think that I am in control of my life, my plans, and my circumstances. But when I cannot get out of bed for nearly 34 hours,  I am reminded that I do not have the power to ensure even my health. One day I was full of energy and activity, the next day I was bed-ridden. James was right to remind us to subject our plans to the sovereign will of God:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13–15).

3. I am not indispensable. The world did not miss a beat while Matthew Emadi was confined to his bedroom on Monday. And the world will not miss a beat when my time on this earth is over. The world will carry on just fine without me. Even the greatest of men are dispensable. Presidents are replaced; kings have successors; war heroes must hand down their swords to the next generation of warriors. I find the reminder of my dispensability to be truly liberating. My hope is not in my gifts, abilities, family, achievements, or anything else that is slipping away with each passing year. My hope is in the only one who is truly indispensable, namely God himself.

4. I can gladly boast about weaknesses (even in a blog post).

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9–10)

5. I look forward to the redemption of the body. I know that many people have endured much worse, but every time I am incapacitated with a fever, I find myself longing for the new heavens and new earth where disease, death, and suffering will be no more. Until then, I groan with creation as I wait for the redemption of the body:

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:22–23)

Until then, may God help me to use my feeble hands, feet, and mouth to bring glory and honor to him.

#illness #suffering

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