5.14.2008

My Kryptonite

I can take a lot of suffering.  I keep a punishing schedule, I'll exert myself mentally and physically to the breaking point, and can even take severe emotional strain without losing much of my gusto or my faith.  But my Kryptonite is being sick.  I am an absolute sissy when it comes to catching a cold.  I will mope - my wife loves that - and drag and whine and otherwise be miserable, and be miserable to be around. 

Pain, in God's hand, is a refiner.  If we're made of gold, it can burn away the impurity of having a conditional faith: I'll happily trust God, unless.  Pain breaks us of that conditional faith and teaches us to trust God even amidst the "unless." 

But if we're made of less, all pain does is burn us and leave us the weaker.  Our faith shrivels until it is no faith at all, and the enemy of our souls and the enemy of our God no longer really needs to worry about us doing any dissonance to him. 

By the grace of God, more and more of me each day is made of gold.  He still has much to refine away, but I am learning to genuinely praise Him in spite of, in the midst of, and even because of hardship He leads me through, because I see in the trial the sovereign and steady and wise and loving hand of my God. 
Alas, sickness I cannot yet deal with.  Sickness derails me from faith; I go from a steely trust to an embittered despondency.  My attitude stinks, I curse God, and I am of no good to Him or anyone around me. 

Each time I get sick, I get a little better at dealing.  I may not do well, and I may not even have the desire to do well; but I am starting to want to have the desire to do well, if that makes any sense at all. 

Last week, I was sick.  And I did not do a little better than before.  In fact, I did far worse.  I was far grumpier, far more despairing, far less caring.  (You can ask my wife, especially.) 

Here's what I learned, though.  First, God still loves me, even when I'm sick and feeling out of it: I experienced that love through my wife and kids and friends, and in times of silence and solitude.  Second, God still utilizes me, even when I'm sick and feeling out of it: a couple of people whose opinions I deeply respect told me how much they appreciated something I had said or done, and I could do nothing but thank God for making it possible at all for me to say and do that amidst my crabbiness and fogginess. 

Sickness may be my personal Kryptonite, and I may have many more things besides even that that God needs to refine away.  But I am learning that for all my imperfections, God is bullet-proof, His hold on me as sure as sure can be, and His power all the more evident to work in spite of and even through my weakness.  In sickness and in health, in adversity and in comfort, thanks be to Him.
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