his mercies never come to an end;
(23)they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
(24)“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
I took that picture this morning while waiting at the bus stop with my son. That verse came to mind as I pondered the beauty of the sunrise in the chilly morning today, because when I went to bed last night I was feeling horrendous, yet this morning, I woke up truly and verbally thanking God for the mercy of a good night’s sleep and a marked improvement in how I felt.
I’ve had occasion to do some thinking about the mercies of God. It’s been a rough two weeks health-wise around here at the Sweet Tea house. About two weeks ago, on a Thursday, I went in like usual to volunteer in the classroom at school like I do on Thursdays. I was really tired that morning, even laughing a little with the teacher about my coffee cup I brought in for fortification that day. Anyway, I dragged through the morning and went home for lunch, when I realized I was going to have to take a nap. When I woke up from the nap, my throat had that horrible pain that, to me, almost always says one thing: “Strep.” Sure enough, the earliest the doctor could see me was Friday morning and by then I was feeling none too well, and it was a definite case of strep. By Monday, one of my sons was at the doctor with an ear infection, and on Tuesday, we were back again with my daughter who had a double ear infection. Of the four of us at home currently (less than a month until hubby gets to come home finally, hooray!), three were now on antibiotics.
Which got me to thinking about what a mercy it is that God allowed people to discover antibiotics, which, in effect, work to alleviate some of the temporal, physical pain of the curse in a temporal sort of way. It struck me how merciful it is that He would allow there to be something like that which helps the wicked and the righteous, and how sad it is that most of the time, rather than such mercy turning our hearts and minds to sing praise to God, we take these things for granted, take it for granted that a visit to the doctor will fix what ails us, and we don’t sing His praise over such a mercy. It also got me to thinking about how angry we get over the times when there may not be a quick cure for what ails us. We get so used to so many things being 'fixable' that we feel like we deserve everything to be an easy cure or easy fix, like we're entitled to it. Anyway, it got me to thinking how incredibly kind God is to have allowed there to be medicine at all. No, we don’t have cures for everything and there are still horrible diseases that wreak havoc on our bodies, but the fact that there are cures for some things at all, and the fact that within 24 hours I and my kids were feeling much, much better is, to me, a mercy, and an undeserved one, if you think about it. How kind is our God? How shameful is it that I, who know Him, so seldom think to praise Him for such abundant mercies, for things like antibiotics that blunt some of the effects of the curse?
Fast-forward to this weekend, and I’ve had occasion to think even more on God’s mercies. Because the antibiotics did not, in fact, cure my problem. Last Wednesday was my last day on the medication, and on Thursday morning my throat started hurting again. As it got a little worse on Friday, I hopefully attributed it to allergies, just sure it couldn’t still be strep, and made the choice to ride out the weekend. Come Monday morning, however, I was miserable with the worst headache I think I’ve ever had in my life and a raging sore throat. Visit to the doctor confirmed that I still have strep. I’m now on a super dose antibiotic with instructions on what to do if certain nasty things happen to me as a result.
What this has caused me to ponder is the fact that, though antibiotics are a good and merciful invention, it is ultimately God who heals. Medicine is limited, but whether God uses that means or not, He is the one who heals. It occurred to me how when I feel strep or other symptoms begin, my first response isn’t usually to pray. My first response for me or the kids is to reach for the phone to call the doctor. A good thing to do, but it occurred to me that by neglecting to pray about things that a ‘good antibiotic should take care of’, I’m in effect putting my ultimate trust in the creation rather than the One who allowed it to be discovered. I’m NOT saying it’s wrong to call the doctor when symptoms warrant that need, nor is it wrong to take the antibiotics. I’m extremely thankful for them today. The fact that I’m upright and typing at the moment when last night all I could do was lie on the couch and moan in agony is proof of that thankfulness.
What I am saying is that I am pondering the fact that I want to be much more alert to praying in season and out. What I am saying is that I am learning, more and more about applying the gospel to every single area of life. Because Jesus has forgiven me and made me His own, I want to be more and more a true worshiper who gives Him honor and praise, when I feel good, and when I don’t. I am learning that prayer and awareness of our awesome, and kind, and merciful God should be much more a part of the daily warp and woof of life. Call the doctor, yes, but as I do, my first thought must be that God is the One who gives me my very breath. Because it is Christ alone who can alleviate the deep and ultimate effect of the curse. Though the earth groans with the curse, I have salvation and am reconciled to God ultimately because of Christ. Whether my body heals or not, it is well with my soul. The mercies that make this life more livable ought to turn my redeemed heart to sing His praise even more, because I have been redeemed and belong whole-heartedly to Him. The mercies that may blunt some of the physical elements of the curse can serve to make me think deeper and learn to be even more grateful for the ultimate cure, that which cures my soul and has counted me righteous before God through the blood of Jesus Christ. What came home to me this week is that my gratitude for His kindness has not always been first and daily and constant. And I want it to be.
So, today, I am praising God for His mercy, recognized and unrecognized, and praying for eyes to see, ears to hear, heart to obey.
The Lord IS my portion, and I will hope in Him.