Well, it finally hit me. I made it 692 days from the start of the pandemic on March 13, 2020. That was the date we shut our offices down and quarantine started. But, on Wednesday, January 26, 2022, I tested positive for COVID.
I knew it was just a matter of time. I thought I had dodged the bullet last July when one of my sons came home from camp with a positive test. He never had the first symptom. He was tested for contact tracing because his roommate at camp had tested positive. He quarantined in his room for 10 days living his best life with 24 hours of Fortnight and McDonald’s DoorDash. I finally cut him off and we paid $28 for a Happy Meal!
I was sure one of us would get it then. Nope. Nothing.
Honestly, I’m shocked I’ve made it this long. Over the last two years, I have seen hundreds of patients in the office with COVID. I’ve worn my appropriate PPE and taken every precaution I could. But, it was eventually bound to happen. I’m truly not sure I contracted it at work. My boys attended a birthday party last weekend and one of the attendees tested positive for
COVID the next day. I suspect I got it from my son because he tested positive the same day I did. (This was not the same son who had COVID this summer!) I will never know.
So, trapped in my house, I have a lot of time to think and ponder. My symptoms have been incredibly mild. But, that is typical for this current variant. I’m tired, I have a slight headache, and I’m stuffy. No fever. No cough. I told a friend this morning my worst symptom now is boredom.
I’ve tried to make the most of it. I kept my template open to see patients virtually from home for a few days. So, despite having COVID, I haven’t taken any time off!
The indolent nature of my symptoms has been difficult to process. Just a few months ago, I attended the funeral of a 40-year-old woman who died of this virus. Her 46-year-old husband had died a week before. They left four children without parents. I’ve cared for countless patients who have struggled with symptoms of the virus for months, dragging around oxygen tanks still gasping to breathe, or wrestling with the aftermath of losing loved ones. I have cried with patients, prayed with patients, and just held the hands of patients whose lives have been wrecked by this virus. Why is my case so mild? Why am I so lucky?
Yes, I’ve had the vaccine and I’ve had my booster. I know that helps. The woman and her husband above had not appreciated the value of the vaccine and were unvaccinated. But even those of us who are vaccinated can still obviously get it. And those of us who are vaccinated can still have devastating symptoms, or even death. COVID has caused physical suffering BUT, for many, the emotional, psychological and spiritual suffering has been worse.
So, why was I spared a more devastating case? Why am I just at home bored?
It’s a bigger question and one that we’ve been exploring in our walk-through Genesis with my pastor. Why does God allow bad things to happen? Why does disease or tragedy strike the Saint and the Sinner alike? Why COVID?
It’s all right there in Genesis 3. I am 100% convinced that COVID was not part of God‘s plan for our lives! Life in the garden of Eden was beautiful. Perfect. Abundant. Eternal. No disease. No shame. But, when humanity left the garden, the curse of sin was unleashed on the the human heart and on the natural order. Creation has been groaning ever since.
From Genesis 3 on, no where in the Scripture does it promise a life without brokenness, lawlessness or disease. Sin broke a perfect creation. But, throughout the Scripture, God DOES promise that He will be with us through all suffering. James reminds us to expect it and allow it to transform us.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials (insert sickness, death, disappointment, etc.) of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4
James goes on to talk about displaying patience when (not if) we suffer. He uses the example of the prophets. In verse 10, he says, “As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.” He was not kidding:
Elijah was threatened by queen Jezebel and had to run for his life after confronting the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. (1 Kings 19:1-4)
Amos insulted the chief priest in Bethel and was banished from the sanctuary. (Amos 7:10-15)
Macaiah contradicted false prophets and was slapped in the face and put in prison by King Ahab. (1 Kings 22:23-27)
Zechariah was stoned to death for rebuking the people who turned aside to Asherah poles and idols forsaking the true Temple. (2 Chronicles 24:16-22)
Uriah fled to Egypt after confirming king Jehoiakim. The king chased him down, brought him back, struck him down with a sword and threw his body in a common burial place. (Jeremiah 26:20-23)
Confessions: I am not a prophet. I don’t understand why bad things happen to good people. And, I am not enjoying, understanding or displaying patience with COVID.
But, I do trust loving God who is walking with all of us through the mystery of disease and brokenness. Even the men and women who followed Jesus around didn’t completely understand. Paul, like James, had a lot to say about “the sufferings of this present time.” In writing to the Thessalonians, he acknowledged “the mystery of lawlessness is already at work” around him (2 Thessalonians 2:7). We know that Paul had a thorn in the flesh, some sort of physical disease that was ongoing. He likely did know why. But, like James, he knew disease and sufferings had a purpose that only God could reveal. Just after acknowledging the whole creation “was subjected to frustration” and “has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth up to this present time,” Paul asserts that “we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:20,22,28).
All things. That includes COVID. And heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and depression, and every other diagnosis I may encounter with patients.
I am comforted to know that I won’t have a job in heaven. No disease, so no doctors needed! I’m good with that. I just pray that in the meantime I can remember that God is calling us to be patient in suffering and remember He is working all things for His good. There is no quarantine, no mask, no COVID in Heaven. Praise the Lord!
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought to the freedom and glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:18-21)
I pray that you stay COVID safe and you seek God's purpose in whatever trial, illness or suffering you may be facing. Glory is coming!