The whole family falling ill all at once, with no warning, there is no doubt that it was due to food poisoning. I cannot recall the last time I was in that much pain, and I don’t know what I would do had it persisted until now. I foolishly chose not to drink as many fluids as Anna and Eden did, and consequently, I became dehydrated. I was, therefore, the last to recover, and my bout with the illness was perhaps the worst. I am thankful that Eden, just over two years old, seemed to fair the best of all of us.
It is rather ironic that we often purchase street food prepared in less-than-optimal sanitary conditions, but it was the food in an expensive, American-style diner that brought this 24-hour nightmare upon us! We’d had a wonderful night out with friends, and even when we had returned to our apartment complex, there was no sign of what was to come. On our way up to our fourth-floor apartment, we were greeted by our neighbors on the second floor. We stepped inside and spent some time chatting with them while Eden played with their daughter – a few months Eden’s junior – and as they can attest, we were all in good spirits. Even after we’d gotten settled in our apartment, we felt perfectly well, even making dinner plans over the phone with another couple for the next night.
As I was putting Eden to bed, she was much more contrary than usual, and she kept pleading for her mother. I suddenly felt a bit ill, and did not have the energy nor the heart to refuse my daughter’s request. We left Eden’s bedroom only to find Anna feeling the same as I did – apparently, the same as Eden. Before Eden could be comforted, she vomited profusely. We cleaned her up, as well as the area around her, and tried to console her, although we were likewise getting progressively sick. Eden vomited once more after nursing, and a little while later, Anna did as well. My insides churning and my muscles aching, I awaited my turn, which I knew was inevitable. In fact, the scene I just described would be repeated throughout the night by all of us.
As our condition worsened, I was left with no option but to go downstairs and walk around the block to the nearest 24-hour store, where I bought Sprite (the tiny establishment only sold sodas, chocolate, and cigarettes,) and then headed back home. I feared my illness might overtake me while I was still outside, and the few people still roaming the streets would witness a most unpleasant occurrence.
Thankfully, I made it back to the apartment without embarrassing myself. Anna and Eden immediately began drinking the Sprite. As for me, my time had come. It was the most painful vomiting! My stomach was contracting violently, my chest was burning intensely, and the most graphic details, I think, are best left unwritten. After I spent quite some time hovering over the toilet, Anna urged me to drink some of the Sprite. And I tried. But I simply could not bear it. In hindsight, I do believe it is because I had had a Shirley Temple at the restaraunt! In any event this was my downfall. As Anna and Eden slowly started to recover, my condition worsened.
The next day, all of us still feeling poorly, I was a most pitiful sight! I experienced intense, constant cramping in my stomach, and although I had the urge, I could not vomit, nor did I have a bowel movement. In addition, my lower back was in excruciating pain. I was at first, perplexed about this, but I suddenly remembered something from years ago. A group of us had decided to fast when I was in college. A rather astute friend of mine did some research in preparation for the fast, and she learned that lower back pain can be a sign of dehydration. Of course! Whereas the worst seemed to be over for my wife and daughter, I was still in the middle of the fight! And all because I refused to drink that blasted Sprite!
But it was morning, and the nearby grocery store was open. I struggled to get up and dressed and slowly made my way there, where I purchased ample amounts of apple juice and some more Sprite. I forced myself to drink all of the apple juice, and I later drank some of the Sprite as well – a much less pleasurable experience than it usually is for me. Slowly, my condition lessened to the same degree as Anna’s. (Eden, by midday, had seemed to almost completely recover!)
Through the worst of it, I simply suffered through, feeling sorry for myself. I periodically called out to God for help, but nothing extensive. But last night, still experiencing some pain and discomfort, I began to think on some things. For one, I was very thankful to God that I was not in my previous condition, and I would gladly take this level of pain over that one. Also, I began to think of the fall of man. Particularly, I thought of how this sickness, and sickness in general, is a result of the fall. This terrible, unpleasant thing is not part of the original design for life. And this is nothing – absolutely nothing – when compared to the depth of pain and suffering in the world. And none of it is supposed to be here. The very presence of it all is the evidence of a world gone horribly wrong. How fascinating it is that one sin resulted in all of this.
And how wonderful it is to know that it will not always be like this. As long as we’re waiting for Christ’s return, suffering – in various degrees and for various durations of time – is simply a fact of life. It is to be expected. It is guaranteed. But Christ is redeeming all things to himself. He is making all things new!
Yes, Christ is indeed making all things new. He has started with the hearts of men, regenerating them, reconciling them to God, making them a part of his kingdom. He has supplemented this with various individual miracles of healing. And it will culminate in a world devoid of any sign of the curse. No sin. No rebellion. No sickness. No suffering.
In the mean time, what do we do with our suffering? What better than to let it point us to Christ? What better than to rely on the Spirit of God as our comforter and as our teacher in those times? What better than to dwell on and cherish the Father’s eternal plan to give all things to Christ, in whom there is redemption?
Even as I write these things, I know that I am not thoroughly acquainted with suffering. So many people in my life have gone through trials that I consider unbearable. And even those people have faced only a fraction of the difficulties that many others have experienced. Nonetheless, suffering is suffering, no matter how mild or how extreme. And none of it is part of a redeemed world, therefore all of it should remind us of our need for Christ as our redeemer.
This morning, Anna, Eden, and I have all fully recovered, and there is no trace of the dreadful state that we were in since Sunday night. I cannot help seeing it as a foreshadow of what is to come. “Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” When Christ comes, restoring all things to himself, he will leave nothing of the old, cursed world. In an even greater way than what my family is currently experiencing, everything will be truly, wholly restored. Lord God, so be it! “The Spirit and the bride say ‘Come!'”