Today’s perspective comes from Lauren Kappel who describes herself as a mom, wife, daughter, and one who is immunosuppressed. This article helps those especially affected by Covid-19 due to their own immunosuppression, but the main point is applicable to us all.
This past year has provided many opportunities for growth in my life which has also prepared my heart for these days of the pandemic and quarantine. Early in 2019, I was struggling to deal with the realities of my dad’s stage IV cancer prognosis followed by his complications with heart disease. In the midst of dealing with the fragility of my Dad’s life, I began to have my own medical issues. While trying to sift through all of my symptoms, two different physicians prepared me to deal with the fact that I too may have cancer. Needless to say, this was a lot to take in at one time. My mind raced and I quickly imagined going through cancer treatments along with my dad and I wondered God’s plan in that for us. Fear and dread also weighed heavily as I thought about this possibility.
Thankfully, after further tests, I found out that I did NOT have cancer but, rather, ulcerative colitis. This diagnosis came as a relief; we rejoiced that I didn’t have cancer, but, in time, we realized that this diagnosis does dictate a new way of life for me and my family. I had to face the realities of being immunosuppressed. This means that my immune system is not working properly. It is easier to catch illnesses and when I do, it takes longer than usual to heal. It could also easily lead into other infections. Last year, I was on a medicine that suppressed my immune system further and also made my ulcerative colitis worse. I had to stop volunteering in children’s church and Awana during the flu season which was not easy as I knew there was a great need for volunteers and I enjoyed being with the children. Along with my own issues, I also did not want to pass on any germs to my dad that could affect him when we visited from time to time. While I was learning all the implications of living with ulcerative colitis and also struggling with the fact that my dad was dealing with cancer, the daily struggles with fatigue and stress weighed heavily.
Before my Dad and I got sick, death wasn’t as much of a weight upon my heart. I knew that when I do die, by the grace of the Lord, I would be with Him and being with Him was my greatest desire. However, after feeling the pain of my illness, seeing my Dad’s suffering from cancer, the sudden nearness and the reality of death left me gripped with fear. The fatigue, stress, grief, and fear were more than I could handle. In my day to day life, I was weary, more easily annoyed, and impatient, with those I love most. While dealing with all of this in my own heart, I continued to homeschool our kids and sought the Lord during this “new normal,” but I lacked the joy that comes with a life fully surrendered to the Lord.
Now fast forward to the COVID19 crisis and quarantine. Needless to say, all of the talks about the virus attacking those who are immunosuppressed didn’t help my problems with anxiety. I had already been dealing with the fears that come with cold and flu season. My kids and I had been sick for a couple of weeks leading up to the quarantine, so the thought of a deadly virus made things worse. I knew I had to prepare my body and home life in any way I could. I began a restrictive diet in hopes to help my body heal and have been learning what types of food can affect me in the wrong way.
I also signed up for an online “30 day de-clutter challenge” put on by a lady that has raised and homeschooled 8 children. I knew she would provide me with the perspective I needed to help me clean up areas in our home that had been neglected far too long. To my surprise, her first area to address was “decluttering your heart.” She wrote a list of things that can fill our hearts with clutter: pride, discontentment, anger, unforgiveness, selfishness, bitterness, worry, negative thoughts, grudges, and past hurts. She advised us to ask God to reveal the sin in our hearts, ask His forgiveness, get rid of wrong thinking and replace it with truth, and to give God our expectations. I quickly went through the list, was thankful that I was doing okay in these areas. I think I did ask God to search my heart but then skipped quickly to step #2 of the decluttering challenge…I was ready to gain some control and clean up our home!
It was a week later, while glancing at the list again, that the Lord lovingly convicted me. The Lord showed me that I had been excusing sin again and again and called it: “being annoyed, weary, sick, and in a hard circumstance.” As the Lord revealed this to me, I began to search my heart and write out my list of sins. I then wrote out scripture I can meditate on instead of the negative things that I had been playing over and over in my mind. I asked the Lord’s forgiveness, and also asked Him to continue to search my heart. After this, I found myself rejoicing in the grace and forgiveness of the Lord. Now, when I’m faced with the temptation of discontentment, I know I must run to the Lord for His truth instead of giving into the pattern of thinking and sin that entangled me before. When I am impatient or angry, I know I can’t just blame it on feeling weary! When I am fearful, I know I must not give in just a little bit as it is a thief to my joy in Christ. The joy of the fellowship of the Lord has been such a blessing to me when I do repent and turn to Him.
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24, ESV)
I have been praying for those that are considered to be in the “high risk category” in our congregation or are caring for someone who may be. I know that many of you are in different seasons of life and have your own struggles in the midst of the COVID19 crisis. I pray that you know you are needed and valued among the body of Christ, specifically here at West Park. As the quarantine mandate will be lifted, I know that you are seeking to learn from the Lord what that means for you specifically. You may wonder what life should look practically for you. The Lord will give you wisdom as you seek Him. My prayer at this unique time is that you will know the riches of God’s fellowship and peace. I pray that you will allow the Lord to search your heart, and show you the areas where you can easily excuse sin in the midst of this hard time. I pray that you will surrender to Him and know that obedience to the Lord refreshes the body of Christ. Even in the struggles of life, your decision to seek after the Lord despite your feelings matters to so many. Your fear of the Lord brings honor, peace, hope, and happiness. Your testimony for your love of the Lord points us to the glorious riches we have in Christ. Your hunger of the Word is so much sweeter as you turn from sin and to the One who loves you so. Your prayers are the means of God working in our lives. You are known, you are precious, you are loved immensely, you are not alone, and you are desperately needed in the body of Christ. May He be glorified as we turn from our sin and walk in the Truth of God’s Word. We don’t want to miss the fellowship of the Lord and of His glory in the midst of this trial.
So whether we we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him. 2 Corinthians 5:9
Those who look to Him are radiant and their faces shall never be ashamed. Psalm 34:5