06 July 2010

Don't waste your feeling-really-yucky

by Dan Phillips

John Piper's Don't Waste Your Cancer is solid, thought-provoking, and challenging. But most of us don't have cancer, just now. In fact, most of us are probably in pretty good health, except for occasional bouts of yuckiness.

I'm coming off of such a bout. My youngest boys just returned from a week at Boy Scouts' camp, the last full day of which they spent with what seems to have been a touch of stomach flu. Theirs was evidently a hungry and ambitious bug, because it made a lightning-like leap to me (and possibly now my dear wife). The boys got home Saturday; by Sunday night, I was coming down with it; my Monday morning, I was laid low with it.

I'll spare you the gross details. (The boys didn't, however, bringing home photographic evidence.  Boys; gotta love 'em.)

Worse than the dramatic eruptions (impressive enough to spark a nosebleed at one point) was this horrid pall of malaise, of just lacking the energy or drive to do anything but lie there and feel sorry for myself. My dear wife did what she could, but mostly I just needed to wait it out, get some liquid to stay in my stomach.

On the scale of human misery, it was a blip, not even a needle-mover. But it pretty much stopped me for a day.

Wish I could tell you I took the time to write a new improved Institutes, but I didn't, and that's the point. It's hard to rally yourself to do much when all your "rally" is languishing in the sewer. So here's what I was able to muster, which I share for any good it might do you when you get a dose of the yuckies:
  1. I did my Bible reading as devotedly as I could.
  2. I thanked God that I was spared until after I'd preached Sunday morning.
  3. I thanked God that I was spared until after I'd been able to enjoy family-time, barbecuing and blowing things up on the evening of the Fourth.
  4. I prayed for everyone else who was there, that they'd not get it.
  5. I thanked God that I am usually in relatively excellent health, and can't even remember for sure the last time I felt this bad.
  6. I thought of the people I know who are being treated for cancer; thought of how they probably usually feel this bad, and renewed my prayers for them.
  7. I thought of the sure reality that I'm living in a clay pot and that, if the Lord doesn't catch me to Himself first, one day it will fail and fall.
  8. I took joy in the truth and hope that one day I will be like Him, because I will see Him as He is, and He will transform my body to be like His — and then all "yuckies," and even all threat or possibility of "yuckies," will be forever a thing of the past (Philippians 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 21:4).
It's not Piper, I know that. But I'm not 100% yet, and it's what I've got.

Dan Phillips's signature


Randy Talley said...

I prayed for you when I saw your tweet yesterday, Dan. Praise the Lord that you're on the mend, as well as for your example in what you posted.

CR said...

Looks like you really redeemed the time (Eph 5:16)

DJP said...

It was a pathetic attempt, but it's what I had.

Aaron said...

It wasn't Piper, but it was enough to make me feel ashamed nonetheless.

Paula Bolyard said...

Great list - I will definitely take note. I suffer from frequent, time-wasting migraines, sometimes for days on end, even a week. I've found that reciting scripture that I've committed to memory is a good way to redeem the time. I especially like Psalm 42. It has an appropriate mix of commiseration and hope at such times.

Staci Eastin said...

So, are the new and improved Institutes coming now that you're feeling a bit better? :)

Hope you're back up to 100% soon.

Esther said...

I have found that thanking God is pretty much the only way to get through the yuckies or the death of a loved one or the loneliness of being a single mom or financial trouble...yep. One can't always change one's circumstances, but one can give glory to God and change one's attitude toward them.

DJP said...

Oh, Paula, that's rough. Migraines seem to target smart people. Too many brains?

Staci - first laugh of the day. Thanks. (c:

Ed de Blieck said...

Not so much what to do when the bottom falls out of your world, as vice versa.

Anonymous said...

Amen. These are clay pots, indeed! But I know that whether cancer or the flu there is no difference for the LORD; he can heal both just as easily, YES :-).

Becky Schell said...

I knew you had to be referring to the Piper piece. I first saw it as I was beginning my wasting year of gluten pain and I referred to it often before I finally figured out what was wrong. Thanks for linking to it.

I agree. You have made a fine list for those yucky times; those are great ideas for honoring the Lord in spite of difficult circumstances. Hope you are back to normal soon.

Chris Wilson said...

For some reason every time I read your posts I mentally "hear" Adam Savage from the show Mythbusters. Having never met you, for some reason I impose his personality on you: always excited about what he does, a little goofy and a weird sense of humor.

But I do love Adam.

Solameanie said...

I remember when I lived out in California during the early 1980s and mentioned a love of fireworks given my fly-over country upbringing. I was quickly disabused of the notion when they told me I'd qet carted off to San Quentin if I even thought the word "fireworks" out there.

Glad to see attitudes are changing, and praying that you are feeling better.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Cracking up about the photographic evidence the boys brought home. Sounds just like what the Grasshoppers would do. (And every boy needs a good barf story... see my eyes roll?)

Glad you're on the mend. I'm heartily challenged by your list. We find ourselves reflecting on your last point fairly often in this house - longing for the day we will be made perfect, with no illness, no cancer, and ears that hear.


Pierre Saikaley said...

You're "not 100%" is better than my 1000% on any given day.

Timely, because I'm trying to see how I can address a sister who lacks faith in her life problems. The contrast in how you respond to illness, and how she does is striking.

She's on the brink of atheism.

lee n. field said...

John Piper's Don't Waste Your Cancer is solid, thought-provoking, and challenging. But most of us don't have cancer, just now. In fact, most of us are probably in pretty good health, except for occasional bouts of yuckiness.

Doesn't have to be cancer. We got the wretched results of the Fall breaking out all over.

here and here. (A friend gone.)

Here and here. (Two parents, one month)

And you of course know about here.

That's just the people I read.

We are like grass

Rachael Starke said...

So sorry you're sick, but thankful for your example. We've had an ongoing battle with a minor health issue here for two months, and as hard as it's been, God has been so gracious to call to my mind all the riches I have in Christ, every second of even the worst day.

In your particular case, at least you can think back on any caloric sins you may have committed on Sunday as now fully, um, purged. :)

Canyon Shearer, DMin said...

A beautiful post and a great reminder, especially in this age of "Health-Wealth-and-Prosperity preachers" who tell you you're sick because you lack the faith to make the germs go away...

Just today one of my little sisters in the faith posted on facebook, "According to the preacher on TV, God is trying to tell me I'm not saved because I have Celiac disease." What followed was her beautiful understanding of Christ's atonement and how it relates to both now and Heaven.

I researched this topic extensively last year under different circumstances, and discovered some amazing things about how we ought to rejoice in our sufferings not just because they make us hate sin, but because they allow us to strive for so much more, setting our affections on Heaven, and being prepared for an eternal weight of glory which has no comparison here on earth. "God created this world with the purpose of demonstrating the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and if we go around happy to live in a sin-soaked and destroyed world, we miss the point completely."

Hope you feel better,
My conclusions...

DJP said...

Thank you all, you're very kind. The "up" side of some flu-bugs is they can leave as quickly as they come. Good sleep last night, energy seems to be back (we'll see what happens when I try to use some), nothing left but gurglies and a very sore diaphragm.

Paula Bolyard said...

@ DJP I was thinking of you (and this post) last night at my monthly zoo volunteer meeting. The zoo's vet was describing a situation similar to yours with most of the zoo's big cats (bad shipment of meat). One jaguar in particular had a particularly bad case, which morphed into a sinus infection (from the stuff getting into her sinuses) and now some neurological difficulties.

Another thing we can be thankful for is that we can understand our condition, unlike the animals, and consider the theological implications of it.

As well, we can communicate with family and doctors about our symptoms and possible causes, unlike poor Naom, who can do neither, causing the vet to have to anesthetize her in order to examine her fully and to comb her exhibit with a fine tooth comb looking for anything she might have gotten into.

It should also make us mindful of families with loved ones who cannot communicate and the added stress even the most minor illness can bring into their lives (not in any, even the slightest way equating these loved ones with animals!!!)

vermilionReformed said...

Thank-you for the fresh reminder.
Phil. 1: 12
Neither cancer nor flu shall keep us from our appointed rounds.
(I just found out that I have the former).

DJP said...

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear it. My thoughts on cancer, per se, are prob well-known around herewards. Please feel free to share more, so I/we can pray.

vermilionReformed said...

Thanks for your concern, brother. I did not intend to hi-jack the comment thread by dropping the c - bomb. I intend it as an emphatic confirmation of your insightful excellent article.
Pray that round two of feeling-really-yucky does as much good to my walk, my ministry and my family as round one.

Dana~Are We There Yet? said...

I'm a little late to this party, but I wanted to chime in with my hearty "AMEN". As a homekeeping mother of 5 children, two of whom have disabilities, my yucky days most often come in the forms of one or more ailing offspring. I've found that I tend to focus on the kinds of things you mention when my homemaking and homeschooling grind to a halt. I play good sacred music, read books upon books, and pray memorized Scripture over our household. I thank the Lord that He allows us to have as many good days as He does, sometimes throwing in some really amazing days for good measure, and thank Him for preserving my health and allowing me to care for the children myself.

Today is a pretty amazing day, a realization I've only come to as a result of reading this post. Thanks, and God bless.