Saturday, March 1, 2008

Glorifying Sickness

“She’s back!”

“Hey, we missed you!”

“Feeling better?”

I hadn’t expected to be bombarded by so many warm welcomes from the Granada Heights Friends Church choir after being absent for three weeks due to that terrible, fever, sore throat, vomiting, runny nose flu that’s been frequenting the masses. The choir’s welcomes made my return twice as sweet. I’d missed seeing Micah Cowell, whom Kristy brings every Wednesday practice to coo and gurgle and giggle. I’d missed Brian Trevor’s tangent stories. I missed trying to decipher between meso fortes and meso pianos. And I had missed the sound of our voices working together.

Upon my return I learned that I haven’t been the only one out sick. During our prayer request time I learned that Jack Schwartz permeated a disk in his back. Dotty Stark has officially retired from the choir because of her knees. Gary Myers mother died recently. Gail’s Neil, and the others had been out sick.

Before we bowed our heads to pray I leaned over to Kathy Little and said, “How do you do this? How do you cope with seeing your family and friends declining in health?” I asked. “How do you keep from being depressed?”

She pressed her lips together and nodded, confessing that she struggles with the same questions. “Funny you should ask, Abby, because Don and I were just talking about this. Don says that its just a part of life: getting older.”

“How depressing,” I said. “Is that all I have to look forward to?”

Kathy waited before answering and her pause made me think, Oh my! I thought. If I was so angry with God for giving me that terrible fever, sore throat, vomiting, runny nose flu, I’m going to make a very angry old person.

We sang another song: “As Long as I Have Breath,” by Sue Farrar. At the end of the song Wayne Day said that this piece particularly resonated with him, especially the line that said: “In times of sore distress; in times of loneliness; as long as I have breath, I will praise You, Lord.”

Kathy Little then tilted her head towards me. “I like to look at Wayne Day,” she said, and I began to think.

Wayne Day’s wife died a year or two ago, but he still faithfully sings with joy. Here is an example that I would love to learn to follow. I want to praise God when my body fails because it is a reminder that a better body awaits me. I want to thank God when injuries slow me down because in my weakness, He is made strong. I want to thank God when I am bedridden because only then do I remember what people need most when they’re ill. And I want to continue singing when my family and friends die because God has ordained that I glorify him here for what will seem like a little longer.

I must admit my attitude was not like this when I have that terrible fever, sore throat, vomiting, runny nose flu. But maybe God will give me another opportunity by blessing me with another sickness so that I may say in my suffering:

As long as I have breath, I will praise You, Lord.
As long as I have life, let my soul rejoice.
In times of sore distress; in times of loneliness;
As long as I have breath, I will praise You, Lord.

As long as I have breath, I will bless You, Lord
As long as life is mine, I will sing your song.
Your joy brings forth my praise;
Your peace fills all my days’
As long as I have breath, I will praise You, Lord

Let me know Your loving kindness everyday,
As you walk beside me pointing out the way.
As long as I have being, I will trust in You;
You are my God;
I lift my soul to you, to You!

As long as I have breath, I will serve You, Lord.
As long as life is mine, I’ll exalt Your word.
And when this life shall pass, and I’m as home at last;
Thru all eternity, I will praise You, Lord.

“As Long As I Have Breath” by Sue Farrar Beckenhorst Press, Inc. Copyright: 1987