Sick in the New Year

I planned to spend the new year in a sort of glowing rhapsody, resting, enjoying family over the holidays, eating Christmas cookies and reading novels. I planned to be refreshed, excited about the wonderful things to come. I planned to file the last of 2009’s receipts, lay out my goals and plans for the new year, and perhaps start revisions on The Advent. I planned to feel very spiritual and in love with God at this wonderful time of the year.

What did I actually do? I got sick. I don’t get sick too terribly often, but this one really wiped me out. Chest infection, sinus infection, generally weakness and achiness. Starting coming down with on December 26 and am just crawling back into normal life now.

And here’s the thing about being sick: it’s hard to rhapsodize while you’re doing it. It’s hard to plan, to work, to rest heartily (not the same thing as resting because you’re too sick not to), to pray or catch up on receipts or feel spiritual. My new year verse is “Work out of your own salvation with fear and trembling,” which does not mean working hard to save yourself, but living out your salvation with awe, with awareness of all Christ has done to effect it, with the sort of worship that trembles. (Look at it in context — Philippians 2.)

But I don’t feel like trembling. I feel like sleeping all the time and watching old BBC sitcoms.

So it struck me the other night how important the second part of that new year passage is: “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 3 goes on to talk about putting no confidence in the flesh, about being found in Christ and someday trading our “vile bodies” for glorious transformation and perfection. The point is that we are human. We are weak. We get sick, distracted, and selfish. Without God working in us, all our dreams of true spirituality are vanity, because we can’t make them come true.

But God can. And God is. No matter how we may feel today, He is working in us. And that is exactly why we can live out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Because a spiritual life is not dependent on what we do; it is a response to who He is and what He has done and is doing.






2 responses to “Sick in the New Year”

  1. Judith Avatar

    Aww … I hope you’re feeling better now!

    I love this: “But God can. And God is. No matter how we may feel today, He is working in us.”

    Happy 2010 – every blessing! 🙂

  2. Bob Avatar

    It sounds like you learned a great lesson through your suffering, and thanks for sharing it with us. Maybe you can pray that you’ll get snowed in for a week so you can do those things you planned to do last week. Anyhow, I’m glad you’re feeling better now. I’ll share an unexpected spiritual lesson I learned this past week.

    Before Christmas, a Jehovah’s Witness, a regular customer, came into our shop. I engaged him in conversation about Christmas knowing he didn’t celebrate, asking him his thoughts about Jesus Christ. To my surprise, he based his salvation on Jesus’ work. He however denied his deity. We both threw out our arguments and he left – still a customer.

    What he said made me think about faith in Jesus Christ, believing in his person and work – which necessitates belief in his deity. How could I convince this customer? I set out researching the Trinity – Three persons (not individuals) in One – one in nature, essence, and being – the Word becoming flesh. If only I could get a handle on this, I could convince him. I prayed that I could. I strained my brain for days trying to unravel the mystery with verses, diagrams and illustrations. Then I read John 14:16-20. It’s all there. Believing in the Triune God – but not understanding it till “that day” – verse 20. If only I’d read this first. Wasted time? Not at all. I better appreciate how unsearchable God is, and how our knowledge of spiritual truth totally depends on Him.

    My brain feels better now too.

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