lessons i learned from the sickbed

5 Lessons I Learned From the Sickbed

Psalm 41:3:  The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed.

I recently spent four days in the hospital for a severe case of adult chicken pox.  I was the sickest I have been in my entire life with intense pain and a fever that spiked at 104.  I am still in the recovery phase and trying to ease back into a full ministry schedule.  As I thought about this whole ordeal in the hospital and in the days since, I sensed some profound biblical lessons God has made real to me and I want to share five of them with you.

phil wages on sick bed

1. Limited Knowledge of Man versus the Omnipotence of God

The chicken pox began with a severe fever on the weekend.  I went to a medical clinic since my regular physician was not in the office.  I was diagnosed with bronchitis and  prescribed the antibiotic Levaquin.  The fever never left and by Monday morning my face and torso were covered in a rash.  I went to see my regular physician who diagnosed me with an allergic reaction to Levaquin.  The next day, I went back to my regular doctor because the rash continued to spread down my body and he gave me a Cortisone shot and steroids.  These were of no avail and on Wednesday I returned to his office where he maintained I was still probably experiencing an extreme reaction to the Levaquin.

He sent me to the local hospital where an ER doctor diagnosed me with chicken pox.  It took four physicians, several exams and a proliferation of lab work to finally discover what was wrong.  Even the best physicians are at times stumped by our medical maladies.  Yet God in heaven has perfect knowledge of everything about us.  Psalm 139:1-3:  O Lord, You have searched me and known me.   You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thoughts afar off.  You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.

2. The Frailty of Man versus the Strength of God

Nothing I did while I was sick provided much relief.  At times even the drugs prescribed by my doctors did not help.  I could not wish, will or order myself well.  My physicians were at odds sometimes about what was really wrong with me.  My pain medicine changed several times because nothing they gave me was providing relief.  My fever racked my body with pain, malaise, weakness and mental fatigue.  The majority of my body (inside and out) was covered sores.  I awoke one night talking out loud to people who were not there.

I prayed for God to heal me over and over again.  I was repeatedly confronted with my own weakness.  I could not heal myself and neither could my physicians.  All I could do was patiently receive medical treatment and wait on this virus to pass.  My strength was no match to chicken pox.

But I was reminded constantly that God is bigger than chicken pox and my frailty.  I had to depend on Him and trust Him for the eventual outcome.  I am not yet back to my full health.  I am trusting Him daily to renew my strength and health.  A few days after I got home God reminded me of His great power as I read Psalm 121.  Psalm 121:1-2:  I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help?   My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

3. The Power of Prayer

When I was able, I would update my friends on social media as it related to my condition.  Before I was ever diagnosed, I requested prayer from several pastor friends and others that God would grant my doctors wisdom.  Within hours, I had over 100 people who indicated that they were praying.  Via phone texts my wife updated many friends of mine regarding my condition.  One dear layman in my church called me from Hawaii where he was on vacation just to pray with me.  Sunday School classes prayed for me while I was in the hospital. Christian friends of other denominations and churches prayed for my healing for days.

James 5:13-15, 16b:  Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.  Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.   And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16b The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

God hears the prayers of His people and acts according to His will.  I am grateful for the goodness of God that I experienced through the prayers of others.

4. The Body of Christ at Work

In addition to the body of Christ rallying behind me through prayer support, I saw it at work in so many other ways.  One of my techs in the emergency room was a recent member of my church.  I married her and her boyfriend just a few weeks ago.  She was so diligent in serving her Pastor.  Another tech was a deacon in a sister Baptist church.  He went above and beyond to minister to me, even bringing me coffee just the way I like it!  People in my church have sent dozens of cards, e-mails, texts, food, and phone calls.  Two men have taken care of my yard work while I have been sick.

Where would I have been without the body of Christ?  How do those outside of Christ ever survive tragedy in their lives?  1 Corinthians 12:12, 26:  For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.  26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

5. A Servant Wife

Solomon pondered the question, “Who can find a virtuous wife?  For her worth  is far above rubies” (Proverbs 31:10).  He also spoke how this kind of virtuous wife is advantageous to her husband.  Proverbs 31:11:  The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.  I discovered this over and over again from my wife Marsha while I was sick.

Time and space will not permit me to describe all the ways she ministered to me while I have been sick.  Not only did she take care of me but she made sure our two sons were taken care of while she was at the hospital with me.  She literally exhausted herself taking care of me and them.  I never thought I could love her more but I am certain that I love her more because of all she has done for me.

What does all of this mean to you?  Are you suffering in some way, and if so, what is God trying to say to you.  C.S. Lewis once remarked that God screams at us in our pain.  Is God using His megaphone of pain and suffering to  grow you deeper in Him?  Is God trying to underscore truths that you already know about Him or yourself through a season of difficulty?  Be open, be receptive, be listening.

The Glory of God changes everything


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