This weekend in the midst of a work project at the church building, the first week in a major shift in how we meet as a church (= small groups), and the first week with a new music leader, I got hit with a cold. Bad. Raging fever, re-appearing food, you name it, it was happening.
I desperately tried to get myself together so I could get to church early to finish copying the bulletin, get the furniture into the newly painted room, and get ready to teach Sunday School and then preach the morning’s message. But even after a long, if uneven, night’s sleep, I could barely stand. No matter how hard I tried, I just wasn’t well enough to leave the house.
The night before had been miserable. After being physically ill a couple of times, I found myself waking up during the night dying for a drink. At first, I was craving kool-aid. I drank it, and saw it again in about 30 minutes. I tried water, but that seemed to unsettle my stomach. Often Coke tends to settle my stomach, but drinking it on an already empty, unsettled stomach meant a twisting, painfully pressurized stomach from the drink’s carbonation. I just couldn’t win! The things I was craving most–all of the things I thought would help–only made me miserable in the end. And though I haven’t been on this earth to acquire much wisdom, I have learned that sin is the same.
I often find myself–and hear others talk about–how there are times when sin seems so good! It seems to be the answer to what I need, if not want a simply want. I always think it will make me feel better. But then it turns on me. And instead of bringing joy, it brings misery. You’d think I would have learned my lesson over the past two days, but I didn’t. Monday afternoon as I beginning to feel better, I had a craving for ice-cold milk. I don’t have to tell you how that went! And again, sin is the same. No matter how many times we find ourselves miserable because of sin, we keeping going back for more. Why? Because – at least in that moment – we believe the sin is better than God. We think the sin will be more satisfying, more joyful than God himself. And yet, over and over again, I am proved wrong.
Why did God in his providence allow me to be sick on such a crucial Sunday for our church? I may never know. But I do know that God used what I hope will be a soon-ending experience of illness to remind me of a lesson I too often forget – sin is deceitful and brings misery, while God always satisfies and brings joy. I pray I will not forget that lesson so easily again.
“For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
“Though evil is sweet in his mouth, though he hides it under his tongue, though he is loath to let it go and holds it in his mouth, yet his food is turned in his stomach; it is the venom of cobras within him” (Job 20:12-14).
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works” (Psalm 73:25-28)