Tuesday, January 18, 2005

"Can I take my medicine now?"

Yup, that's what she said. "Can I take my medicine now?"

Maybe you can hear that sentence from the lips of someone recovering from surgery from time to time, but not from the lips of a three year old girl who mostly feels pretty good. It's music to the ears of this well-worn dad who has had to hold down the occasional son and force medication past the teeth and down the throat. But my daughter was ready, willing and quite anxious to take her medicine this morning when she rolled out of bed at 10 A. M. (Yes, it's heavenly to have a child who loves to sleep late!)

It's not horrible medicine - just amoxicillin - today's antibiotic of choice. And it's bubble gum-flavored. That never made a difference with my two older kids though. Usually they'd take it eventually, but they were never anxious to get to it.

It turns out that the rash that was on my daughter's back and belly is Scarlet Fever. Now I don't know about you, but the name "Scarlet Fever" makes me think of mosquito-infested jungles and writhing bodies being carried off on canvas stretchers to tent hospitals. Too many movies growing up, I guess. My little girl, mercifully, has almost no symptoms. The doctor said she should have a high (105 degree) fever, swollen glands and an almost raw throat. She doesn't have any of that. She hasn't even shown a sign of fatigue over the past three days. In fact, we just had a quick dance together moments ago. Strange, isn't it?

It's always strange to notice that some people are affected differently by misfortune. When I was a kid, my younger sister got the chicken pox. She, for some reason, had a grand total of maybe a dozen "pox" on her body. Her fever was almost non-existant. And when she found out it was contagious, she ran around the house trying to kiss me! About two weeks later, guess who had the chicken pox? You got it. But I didn't get the "one dozen pox and no fever" version. Like Elisha, I got a double portion. Pox in my ears and down my throat and other places that I don't wish to relive. The fever was in triple digits too, although I don't remember much of that because of all the ITCHING!!! I never found the way to exact my revenge on my sister for that episode. Probably just as well.

So why are we affected differently? Why doesn't God make sure the sickness and suffering are distributed evenly? Why is a Chinese pastor in jail for preaching the Word while I am sitting in a comfortable room with music playing, typing on a computer? Why is Linda, a lady at my church, having a second cancerous tumor removed this week while my grandmother has lived 91 years without having any?

I know all the verses to quote. I understand that we suffer the consequences of living in a fallen world. And I know that God will not give us more than we can handle with His help. That last one almost hurts as much as it helps. How many people give up without accessing divine comfort? Way too many, that much I know. And it brings me back to the lost in the world. People seem to want to do things themselves, even if they fail. Not everybody, mind you, but far too many. And if you can do it yourself, you certainly don't need a Savior. Too many people live with the delusion that they are actually handling things themselves. We are never as strong as we think we are.

I guess we're all different. That would partially explain why we are affected differently by things of the world. But is the rest of it simply the amount of leaning we do on our Heavenly Father? Not in the case of my daughter's lack of fever or my own "extra-pox" or any other physical ailment, but in the way we handle it. The leaning takes a lot of pressure off our own shoulders, and I don't understand why people are afraid to lean. But I realize that in too many cases I try to handle things without leaning also. I doubt that many of us are immune.

So when the troubles pile up, I try to remember to lean that much harder. And I thank God for His presence, His love and His mercy. And for bubble gum-flavored medicine.

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