Plague Boy

**This here’s a reprint from a few years ago, when I felt as remarkably unwell as I do today.  

There’s no use denying it—I’ve got the crud.  For the last few days, I have hardly stirred from my big green chair.  I have slept, eaten, napped, read junk novels, snoozed, scrolled aimlessly through Facebook, slumbered, and slept.

I’ve been sick.

There are no spectacular symptoms I can point you to.  No raging fever, no projectile vomiting, no delirium—at least, none that I’ve noticed. I’m not bleeding, either internally or externally.  Neither pox nor pustules are in ready evidence.  I’m just totally wiped out.

Frankly, I almost wish I had some better symptoms.It would kind of justify the time I’ve been out of commission.  When you tell someone that you’re sick, they invariably respond with some variation of, “Oh, I’m so sorry.  What’s wrong?  Is it your stomach?  Is it your head?”  It’s great to have a solid response, like “Yeah, it’s my head.  I’ve been bleeding from the eyes for several days now…fever’s at about 107,” or, “It’s weird…I’m covered head to toe in some kind of itchy purple fungus.  The doctor gave me some ointment, and that seems to be helping…”

Instead, I’m stuck with, “I’m just really, really tired.”  See, I even to you I had to add the extra “really.”  And I qualified the statement with a “just,” as though to admit that I know I sound like a punk. And you may say, “Oh, that’s rough.  I know what that’s like,” but inside you’re thinking


“Lazy bum!”

“Weenie boy!”

“Time to get off your chair and get something done!”

Well, maybe you’re not thinking that, but I am.  Because I’ll tell you, Pa Ingalls wouldn’t have called in sick today.  Virus? Ppfeh!  That man worked a full-time job at the mill and ran a farm.  Weekends?  That’s when he worked in his barn, hand-crafting furniture to put in the house he built with his own hands.

Yesterday, I walked the dog.  And did the dishes.

It’s humbling to be sick.  Frankly, I think that’s one reason God allows it. The occasional virus serves as a reminder that, not only is life not all about me, it’s not up to me.

Unless the Lord builds the house

Its builders labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city

The watchmen stand guard in vain.

In vain you rise early and stay up late,

For he grants sleep to those he loves.  (Ps 127:1-2)

I don’t know about you, but I can get way too caught up in my own importance.  It’s not that I don’t matter.  As a husband, and a father, and a teacher, God has given me very important duties.  My problem (and I suspect yours, though I’m too polite and subtle to mention it) is that I start to think that I alone can and must accomplish all that has been set before me.  Though I never forget God, I do sometimes relegate him to the position of spectator.  Of course, it’s when I think I have to accomplish everything that I feel most powerless.  When I let myself rest, or when plague forces it on me, I am reminded that there is a God who is knowledgeable, capable, and on my side.


I’m going back to sleep.

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