He felt so sick. So weak. He could not remember just how long he had been lying there like that. He realized he was moving in and out of consciousness. One moment, he would be very aware of everything, then suddenly, he would be aware that he had just awakened and that he had been dreaming really weird dreams.
For the moment, at least, he felt more alert. He tried very hard to remember. How long had he been sick, really? He just couldn’t quite put it together. But it must have been a long while.
What he could remember, with some bitterness, was that some, on whom he had thought that he could rely, seemed now to be too preoccupied with other things. They were not coming around. Where were they?
He remembered one incident clearly. And even as he thought about it, he realized how silly he had been to invest too much confidence into it. Only recently (well, it seemed recently, but perhaps it had been awhile) he had begun what he thought was a close friendship with Paul. “If you ever need anything, give me a call. I’m here for you.” Paul had actually said that. But when he called, Paul seemed to have other priorities. “But,” he thought, “could I blame him? How many times have I gone out of my way, or given up my time and energy to be there for someone else?” No, he could not blame Paul. “That’s just the way we all are. We say words that sound like promises. But in the end, they are not really promises. They’re just words that seem nice to say at the moment.”
But, even so, now that everything seemed to be going the wrong way, he felt terribly lonely. He decided that if people are going to say such words they should really mean them.
“If I could just somehow get a little more comfortable. If these body aches would just stop for just a little while. Then maybe I could think straighter.”
Would he live through this? He wasn’t at all sure. But he remembered that there were other times when he felt that he could not live. Then he would get better… He just didn’t know… Maybe he would get better again this time too.
Without much forethought he suddenly decided to pray. “God, are You here? Do You see this? Do You care about it? Would You intervene here and do something about this mess I’m in?”
“God, You know that You’re my only hope here. I need You. You know I’m trusting Jesus. You are my only Hope. I know that. And You certainly know it better than I do. And You know how badly I’ve messed up. But I need You to break through now. Would You be willing to heal me? I know You could. I’m so sick. I need You.”
More silence. Just silence.
Gradually, as he drifted back into restless sleep, a Bible verse from out of nowhere came floating through his mind. “I will never leave you. Nor will I ever forsake you.” He slept.
Voices. How long had he been asleep? He had no idea. His brain felt foggy.
“How’s he doing?”
“Well, I don’t really know. At least he’s been sleeping. Thank the Lord for that. But he still seems awfully weak.”
That last voice was familiar. Who was it? Of course! It was his wife! How could he have been confused about that?
Thinking of his wife brought back more memories. She had been faithful. She was there. How could he have neglected to realize that?
Suddenly he felt ashamed at how many other times he had taken her for granted. It made him feel sicker. She had certainly done everything she knew how to do to keep him comfortable. And all he seemed to feel was self-pity. “Lord, please forgive me for my disgusting self-pity. What can I do for her, Lord? What can I do to show my appreciation?” And he realized that at the moment, he could do absolutely nothing at all.
He waited. The voices moved a little further away. He could no longer make out the words. But it was comforting to hear the sound of voices.
He resolved that he would do something really wonderful for his wife as soon as he got out of the predicament he was now in. Maybe he could take her on a really nice trip. That was it. He would certainly to that. She would protest that they didn’t have enough money, but he would insist. It was the least he could do.
But what if he couldn’t? What if he were unable to do it? What if his strength never returned? No, that possibility was unthinkable. He had been sick before. He always got better.
Suddenly he felt as if he were on one of those flimsy rubber rafts that one can rent at the beach. The waves were rolling underneath him. Feelings of nausea swept over him. He did not think he could bear it. “Oh, God, please help me!” He repeated the prayer over and over. Gradually the nausea subsided. He didn’t think he could take much more of this. It was just too much.
He was conscious of his wonderful wife at his side once more. Her hand was on his forehead. She said, “Oh dear, your fever is back up.” She stepped away from the bed and quickly returned with a cool washcloth for his forehead. “My love, can you hear me?” She asked. He could. But, maddeningly, he simply did not have the power to let her know that he could.
She said, “Well, I don’t know if you can hear me or not, but God can. I’m going to pray… Lord, we know You are here. And You know better than we do what’s going on here. You know that my dear husband needs You. Please be merciful to him. We will give You all the glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
As she ended her prayer another verse appeared in his mind. “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory, in Christ Jesus.”
His body felt revoltingly sick. But, somehow, he was sure God would take care of everything. But where was He now? He needed God now. Surely God could see that, couldn’t He?
He was just drifting off to sleep again. He was wishing with all his might that he had some way to let his wife know how much she meant to him right now. But he could not.
As he sank back into sleep, he thought, “I just feel so, so weak. So very weak.”
Suddenly he was wide awake. For an instant he was completely disoriented. He seemed to be floating or something. And he didn’t feel sick. In fact he had never felt better. It was as if all his senses were fully alive and fully tuned to a deluge of wonderful sensations. He looked around. People. As far as he could see in every direction. All of them were floating, just like he was. They seemed to be filled with an outrageous joy and happiness and all their focus was on one singularly brilliant Person who was also floating in their midst. It had to be Jesus.
At once, as if it were the only logical thing to do, his mind and his lips joined all the others in giving praise to Jesus. It was clear now. Jesus had returned at last! Just as He said that He would. “But what strange timing! Just at my weakest moment!”
All this took place faster than thought. Or maybe it was longer. He could not tell.
At last, not really wanted to take his eyes off Jesus, he looked around. There was his wife. They embraced. Through strong, joyous tears, she said, “Isn’t this wonderful! He has come at last!”
“But I was so sick. I thought I was about to die. Now suddenly, this!”
She said, “Oh, you did die. It was awful. I cried and cried. But I think it must be kind of like some sort of time warp. You died. Years later, I got sick and died too. Although, for me, just as for you, it seems that it just happened a few seconds ago. It’s just like He told us in the Bible. Death, then resurrection! We’ve just been resurrected! Can you believe it?”
“That’s it! Of course I believe it! It’s happening to us right now! How long have we been out here praising Him?”
She replied, “I have no idea. But I’m pretty sure that time isn’t going to be such a big deal from now on.”
“But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:54)