The Gift of Affliction

I have been up the last five nights with a coughing, feverish, miserable baby.  The only moments of peace were when his nose cleared enough so that he could nurse, or when by sheer exhaustion from coughing and crying, he would succumb to sleep.  I rubbed his back, cuddled him close, dabbed his crusted nose with warm wet washcloths, and prayed.  Prayed ever so much.

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Snuggling in bed with Reuben when he was little.

In the night watches with a sick child, my mind is brought back to a particularly virulent illness we got in Chile.  The nature of it was to have first days of migraines and then vomiting and then weakness, the whole affair taking about a week to work through.  I dropped over five pounds in three days, unable to move from my bed, unable to bear any light touching my eyes.  I was thoroughly out of commission. I could not cook, homeschool the children, nor teach in our Bible studies, nothing but lay there.  When my eyes became less sensitive to light, I read in the Psalms and the words jumped from the page, into my heart:

“I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous,

and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.

May your unfailing love be my comfort,

according to your promise to your servant”.

Psalm 119: 75,76

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Sophia finds a grape hyacinth bulb to plant elsewhere while we dug out a new garden bed.

What if our illnesses were not just trials to bear, to shape us into a persevering, compassionate people, but also gifts to be received?  I realized in Chile, as I lay reading in my sickbed, that it had been a long time since I could have a day of rest, all stretched out with no duties but healing to attend to.  To have my schedule all cleared out before me, though my body hurt, my mind was all open and engaged and able to enjoy the pleasures of reading and study.  God faithfully gave me enforced rest.  I thanked Him.

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Henri.

As I held Henri through these nights of fitful sleep, I have had the sense of being held while I am holding, of being comforted while I comfort.  I had my baby tucked next to me, our bodies echoing warmth and security back to one another.  I smiled in gratitude each time he was able to draw nourishment into his body, I breathed sleepy thanks to God.  Henri could sense I was keeping near to him in his distress, that I was attentive to all his needs, and I felt the same from the Father; that He who crafted universes without number was near to me, watching over tired me, and giving me strength.

“The Lord your God is with you,

He is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you,

He will quiet you with His love,

He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:19

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