This is weariness like I’ve never known. This is my tenth day of an illness, I’m about to take my 4th pill of a double-dose Z-Pak, and my body temperature is rising by the minute as symptoms worsen. I have worked 60 hours so far this week and will work 20 more out of the remaining two days. I’ve slept a total of 20 hours since Sunday morning. One week before this illness started, I had a head cold for a few days. The weekend before that, I had a stomach bug. Four days of the week before the stomach bug I had a more severe cold than the more recent one. And whatever I have now surpasses them all, combined. Missing work is not an option. Sleeping through the night is not an option (I’m still feeding an infant). Sucking it up is my only option, and people “suck up” far worse conditions every single day, shedding light on how trivial my problems really are. But still, I’m suffering–I have been blessed with excellent health and do not know physical pain beyond the pain of childbirth. My easy ride so far in life has made me a wimp in comparison to those who suffer greatly, so yes–I am weary.
We all have a tool-kit for times like these, when you have to reach for something deep within yourself just to meet the very next demand–you’ll figure out the others after this one. My parents began filling my kit when I was a child. They filled it with prayer, scripture, godly friends and a church family. My mom texted me today and asked how I was feeling. When I told her, she said “Well I’m praying for you!” Of course, I said something like, “Thanks–I need all the prayers I can get!” But really, chicken soup for the soul isn’t going to cut it. Prayer isn’t really in my tool box any more (although I sometimes reach for it out of habit), and that’s hard for me. I won’t say I never benefitted from it–I believe placebos can work, and sometimes the prayer placebo worked well for me. Knowing that there was a purpose for suffering and a greater strength than mine that could be revealed through it helped me make sense of much of my life and gave me energy in times of physical or emotional weakness. But right now the only things in my kit are antibiotics, narcotics, expectorants, antipyretics, and an inhaler. And even they aren’t cutting it. And in this moment, I’m at a loss. In this moment, I wish I could just pray and actually feel something, but all I can do is cry (without letting my family see, because I realize that this is utterly pathetic).
I remember the first time I got sick in college–the first month away from home–and how I laid on my bed in tears and told my roommate, “I just really want my mom.” I’ve outgrown that specific need, but this one feels so much like it. I just want a Savior to comfort me in my pain with a sense of His presence, but for the first time in my life I can’t muster up enough weak faith to ask for it. Instead of grieving how far away He is as I have for the past couple of years, I grieve because I don’t even believe He was ever there at all. And I’m discouraged because my work friends all keep the same hours I do, and all my church friends are offering is prayer and scripture about healing or encouragement that I’m not receiving. How many times have I done that–offered prayer instead of meals or scripture instead of my own words of encouragement or my own presence? How many times have I offered advice instead of genuine affection, sympathy, or companionship?
My mom can’t help me, many of my friends can’t help me, my other friends offer me empty platitudes, and even medicine can’t relieve what I’m enduring. So I’ll ride it out–tomorrow is day 11. But I miss finding a purpose in pain. I miss the offer of strength made perfect in my weakness. I miss casting my cares and being sustained. Just like the first sickness in college, I’m here in tears during one of my earliest trials since walking away–and I just really want Jesus.