A Sick Allen!

Being sick is no fun.  Being real sick is really no fun!  As I’ve shared with some folks following my week at home recovering from strep throat, even though sickness is nothing to be enjoyed, sometimes it is something from which spiritual lessons can be learned.

Of course, I recognize and freely tell folks that getting strep throat, at least in the modern age, is not a life-threatening illness.  Many other persons, including some of you who are reading this now, have dealt with much more serious diseases and conditions.  I don’t pretend my week with a sore throat compares to HIV/AIDS, cancer, or other serious illnesses.  Even so, it was enough of a shocker to have put me in bed for several days.  Strep throat caused me to be dependent upon others and to reprioritize my life, even if only for a week.

And I think that is where the spiritual lessons can be learned from illnesses, accidents, and even tragedies.  Never, ever would I even remotely imply that God either plans for such setbacks nor intends for them to be a part of our “spiritual growth plans.”  That would necessarily project an evil god with a sadistic bent.  Rather, I think such moments in life, which are simply part-and-parcel of this complex thing called “creation,” allow us opportunities to either learn and grow from them, or not.

Becoming dependent upon others, from my beloved partner, Craig, to the leaders of the church, reminded me of the wisdom that Job, Paul, and many other people of faith have learned.  We are not the center of the universe, and no one is indispensable.  Being dependent upon those around us to do even the very basic necessities of life reminds us that interdependence, not independence, is the spiritual path God calls us to journey along.  I give special thanks to those of you who stepped up to the plate, in worship and in the everyday tasks of the church and got things done, and done well.  Perhaps not with my special flare 😉 but done mighty well enough!

Likewise, illness and injury force us to reprioritize our lives.  It’s perfectly understandable that less-than-important stuff fills up our calendars, and it is a familiar human trait to get distracted by things that may be nice or even fun, but not very significant.  Yet, there’s nothing like lying on your back incapacitated in bed to get refocused on what is essential to who we are and what is not.  My first Facebook post following my illness indicated that I felt a renewed desire to simplify my schedule and try to spend time on things that really were important and worthy of my calling.  Immediately one of you responded that you would hold me lovingly accountable to this, for my/our own good!

The challenge for us is to explore these spiritual truths apart from such life-altering moments of sickness or misfortune.  If interdependence and reprioritizing are such critical spiritual disciplines, then let us find ways to engage in them without having to get strep throat!

God’s Grace Is Abundant,

Pastor Allen