Have you ever experienced a time when things just pile on and you’re wondering why? Most of us have this happen from time to time. Let me be completely honest with you, dear reader. I’ve just come through a time like this when I wondered what in the world I could gain spiritually. But God always comes through with a lesson for me.
A couple of weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night with a pain in my left ear like someone had poked it with an ice pick. I have allergy and sinus trouble, so I marked it off as that, spread some more peppermint oil across my forehead, and tried to sleep. Four days later the lymph node next to that same ear swelled up like a hard marble. I knew it was time to visit my doctor for an antibiotic.
When my doctor came in and asked me to explain what was going on. I nonchalantly said that I had probably waited too long, trying to treat my sinuses and ear myself. I’m going through the pain in my ear four days before and the swelled node.
My doctor shook her head and looked rather sympathetic. “You’ve got shingles.”
I was shocked. “I didn’t know you could get those on your head.”
“Yep. I’ve seen it often lately. You can’t return to work all the rest of the week. Here’s prescriptions. The steroid might make you anxious. The pain pills will make you feel foggy. And the anti-viral is for five times a day for ten days.”
I left her office in a daze, never even considering that diagnosis. During that week I went up and down with the medications. Since I am more of a naturalist when it comes to keeping myself healthy, the pills really made me feel drugged.
That Friday was my husband’s day off. He whisked to the barber for a hair cut. When he returned, he was shivering and sick. His temperature rose above one hundred. For two days his fever would raise and then slowly come down, only to shoot up again.
It is at this time we began to think about the plans for Sunday morning. My husband is the pastor of our church and I am an interpreter for our deaf members.
“Why are we surprised that this has happened right now?” My husband said. “This is our Friend Sunday. There will be many unsaved people there just waiting to hear the gospel. Satan doesn’t like it. This is spiritual warfare.”
Spiritual warfare isn’t a new term in our house. Being married to a minister who preaches the Word of God unashamedly, I’ve seen it often.
Suddenly, the line from Job one came into my mind: “Have you considered my servant, Job?” God asks this of Satan. I could immediately hear God saying, “Have you considered my servant, Paula?” Makes me question whether I am up to the challenge. I also always search for what I am to learn.
Another scripture came to mind. “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:3-5
Perseverance means to persist in spite of difficulties. I can’t learn to persevere without the difficulties. And God is using that lesson in perseverance to build my character.
Isn’t it interesting that character produces hope? As my character is molded more into the image of Christ, there’s the hope. Christ is the hope within me.
One of my favorite things to say and remind myself of is that God doesn’t waste anything. Not even a bout with shingles. I had to persevere through it. But God taught me patience and where my strength lies. Valuable aspects for building my Christ-like character. I have the hope that He is shaping me and leading me in the way He wants. I also have the hope that no matter what I go through, His love is steadfast for me.
Let me bring the story full circle. My hubby and I both relied on God much but went that Sunday morning. He preached the gospel to a packed house with many visitors. We have already seen fruit from that day with decisions made and people being baptized.
Now I won’t lie to you and say that I want those shingles to return. But I wouldn’t take anything for the lesson learned. As always. My Father knows best how to mold me. Sometimes He knows He has to allow suffering to get my attention and prove He will see me through.
Has God ever used a suffering to teach or mold you?