For the past week and a half the Deckers have had a bit of Covid - I say a bit because Hubby had a bit more, and I’m having a bit less. Last week I worked from home to spare my co-workers, since we share everything (well, lots of things, anyway, and a good girlfriend doesn’t share Covid if she can help it . . .). And Inertia struck. I’m sure you know the feeling since Covid became a thing - will I get it or not? Can I go do this thing or not?? And I hadn’t been spending time with the Lord regularly, which is how I cultivate my reserves. So, no reserves. And growing crabbiness.
The next day I felt like I needed to read Galatians. I thought, I can get back into time with the Lord, build some reserves, and get over my crabbiness. And Galatians is just a few short chapters - unlike trying to start an I’m-going-to-read-the-Bible-in-a-year reading plan. Galatians is doable.
And I read, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Gal 5:22)
And then, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people . . .” (Gal 6:9-10)
I felt properly chastened about my crabby Patty attitude, and at the same time, inertia slipped away, and I got some work done. At home. By myself. AND serving everyone doing everything in the home - that thing you do when you’re the one not sick and you have a teenager. (Props to Hubby, though, who actually did help out as he started feeling better . . .)
And I wondered do I/don’t I go to church? I don’t have Covid, but I feel a little off . . . how long will Covid last? How long do we have to quarantine? Am I really getting sick, or are my symptoms psychosomatic? So time with the Lord helped build some reserves, but you might sniff out that there was some underground, low-level grumbling.
In the midst of not having concrete answers about timelines, I decided to work on those reserves again, and I thought about Hope. Romans 8:23-25 says, “we . . . groan inwardly [yep, I was doing that] as we wait eagerly for . . . the redemption of our bodies. . . . But if we hope for what we do not have, we wait for it patiently.”
And also, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Rom 12:12)
And then I tested positive for Covid on Monday, and had some answers - that I’d be waiting a bit longer and get the perfect opportunity to practice more patience. That Hope and Patience and Not Growing Weary are interconnected. That finding Contentment in the midst of all that is an ongoing lesson for me.
To that end, I opened a new little book I got for Christmas, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment (yes, I actually asked for this, bc I KNOW THYSELF) by Jeremiah Burroughs, a pastor from the 1600s. Burroughs starts the book with,
“‘For I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.’ Philippians 4:11
“Here is a very seasonable cordial to revive the drooping spirits of the saints in sad and
sinking times; for the hour of temptation is already come upon all the world to try the
inhabitants of the earth.”
(Don’t you just love that he uses the word “cordial”? And that his version of the Bible says “therewith”????) This little book is full of his sermons on the topic of Contentment. And they take up 303 pages (I think that’s probably the longest sermon on Contentment I’ve ever seen and will not likely ever see again. You know what this means, right? We can NEVER complain about our pastors’ sermons being too long.) How on earth can anyone call 303 pages a CORDIAL (keeping in mind cordials were served in itty bitty sparkly glasses)???
Armed with my pittance of Patience, inexorable Inertia, and Creeping crabbiness, I exercised my freedom in Christ to skip around this little book to page 214, which is titled, “II. When we murmur for small things”. And since our guy is from the 1600s, we can safely surmise that murmuring is not whispering sweet nothings to one’s sweetheart, but the full on grumbling and complaining that we sang about not doing in Sunday School.
Burroughs tells about a time that he “read in Seneca a heathen” who “set out the great evil of murmuring upon smaller afflictions. Says he: ‘Suppose a man has a very fair house to dwell in, and he has fair orchards and gardens, and set about with brave tall trees for ornament. If this man now should murmur because the wind blows a few leaves off his trees, what a most unreasonable thing were it for him to be weeping and wringing his hands, because he loses a few leaves off his trees, when he has abundance of all kinds of fruits! Thus it is with many,’ says he, ‘though they have a great many comforts about them, yet some little matter, the blowing off a few leaves from them, is enough to disquiet them.’”
And suddenly, Burrough’s serving of this little cordial revived my drooping spirits. God broke through my - let’s be honest - temper tantrum in my Covid time-out with the ruminations of a very old guy writing about an even older guy to teach me, with all my get-answers-quick, modern versions of the Bible on my phone, literally at my fingertips, how to have patience in the midst of not-knowing-what’s-next. To not focus on the few falling leaves, but notice all the “brave tall trees” that ornament and fill my life with abundant fruit. That really, instead of depleting, Covid is doing the much needed job of slowing me down, where I can learn contentment and refill reserves, with slow, regular sips of God’s sweet Cordial - His Word.
Written by Inga Decker