Last week was different from my usual schedule. I went for a check-up on Monday and found out that I had shingles. If you wanna gross yourself out, google it. Shingles is what you get when you get infected with the virus that causes chicken pox and your immune system is low. Thankfully mine was confined to a strip from my back to the stomach.
It was from overworking myself. So now I was on forced rest. The doctor prescribed a total of 12 pills a day as the rash was going to get worse. Sleeping was a challenge because of the pain and terrible itchiness.
Then on Tuesday, we found out that we lost the baby. On the first month we could see the heartbeat on the ultrasound. But last week there was none. The doctor said there wasn’t anything we could have done or not done to change the outcome. A developmental problem caused the pregnancy to end. Here’s Carla’s blog on it. She expresses herself so much better than me.
So the past week has been all about recovering physically and emotionally. I don’t know if there’s any one point to this, but here are some thoughts that I’ve had from tending to my shingles and comforting my wife.
1. Pain is God’s way of getting our attention.
I knew I was doing a lot, but I kept telling myself I would rest one week later. But the shingles suddenly made resting urgent. The most foolish thing we can do is to ignore the pain that God allows in our life. Whether it’s physical, financial, relational, or emotional pain, ask God what He’s trying to tell you through this time.
2. Pain exposes what’s really important.
As we cancelled meetings, classes, and several other appointments, only the most urgent thing remained on my schedule – support Carla through the loss of the 2nd pregnancy. That’s all that mattered. Other people could teach, lead, disciple, and attend for me. But only I could support my wife that way. One reason God allows pain in our lives is to show what is most important.
3. Some very precious things can only come from pain.
Like an exquisite flower that only grows on a precarious cliff or at the edge of a volcano, there are some beautiful things that God produces through pain. As Carla and I grieved over the loss, we were encouraged by the faith of men and women who shared their difficult times with us. Her blog was flooded with comments of many amazing men and women who have endured the same and much worse. Their faith helped us immeasurably.
Sometimes we’re encouraged by stories of God’s blessing in people’s lives. But everyone is inspired when we see God’s faithfulness even in great difficulty.
4. You can’t fast forward grieving.
The logical part of me is trying to not feel sad about everything. Statistically speaking, this is bound to happen to someone. Relatively speaking, this isn’t even close to the worst that people suffer.
But from the advice of wiser people, and more experienced people, we’re giving ourselves the time to feel sad when it comes up. This actually helps us move on faster. I’m blessed to have a wife who also knows that the best person to go to is God. We don’t understand His ways, but we can trust His motives. It’s okay to mourn the loss of someone or something. God comforts those who mourn.
5. Love helps more than anything else.
Carla and I have been encouraged by the many different expressions of empathy from people. It almost didn’t matter what they said exactly, because the spirit behind the words already helped a lot.
This quote by C.S. Lewis kept coming to mind:
“When pain is to be born, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.”
6. God is good.
Getting shingles was a huge hassle. Then I found out we lost the baby and now I was thankful that I had one week house arrest. Instead of the packed week I was expecting, I had an easy week at home, resting, playing with Philip, and praying with Carla. As we talked together, I learned much about myself, my wife, and about God – things I would never have known otherwise.
It was a reminder that even bad things have unforeseen benefits. Sometimes we’ll know the reason in this lifetime. Some things will only be clear in the next. But when we don’t know all the answers, we can trust that the Person who does have all the answers loves us. And that’s good enough.