Woe Is Me, I Have A Cold

IMG_0956I’ve had a cold this week. It came on suddenly Tuesday morning with a runny nose followed shortly by sinus congestion and mild headache. Nothing too big. Just irritating. My symptoms waxed and waned as I self-medicated over the rest of the week, and by yesterday evening, I thought I was out of the woods. But I guess not.

I woke up this morning at about 4:00 AM with nasal and sinus congestion worse than I’ve had all week. Bummer. Especially because it’s Saturday and I wanted to sleep in. As I was laying there feeling sorry for myself (and working up a pretty good sized “woe is me” attitude), I said a prayer that God would grant me a little relief and that I’d get back to sleep. Then I realized how petty that seemed, and this passage from scripture came to mind:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.       Philippians 4:11-13 NIV

Somehow, Paul was able to be content in “any and every situation,” and he’d been in some pretty severe situations as recounted in this passage, which also came to mind:

Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.       2 Corinthians 11:24-27

Given that, did I really want to be whining to the God of the universe about a cold? Now I know God loves me, and that he is kind and caring, and that no problem is too small for him. But still. Really? Shouldn’t I be more content like Paul? As I repented of my whining, God answered my prayer and I fell back asleep for another hour. Now that I’m up and around this morning, here’s the learning I’m finding in this situation.

First, I have much to be grateful for. I’m in general good health and the cold won’t kill me. It’s not Ebola. Yet many others are suffering from debilitating and/or lethal illnesses. As I write (and you read) this post, people are dying of Ebola, or cancer and other more ordinary illnesses. My problem with sinus congestion is simply not worthy of a woe-is-me attitude. Repentance is warranted.

Second, God is in control and man is feeble by comparison. Even with all the spectacular advances in technology and healthcare we’ve made in the last few decades, humans are not, and will never be, masters of universe. Yes, we can transplant hearts, lungs and kidneys, but we cannot yet cure the common cold. Who among us can make a single hair on his head black or white? Our power flows only from God’s power, and we need to remember that. More humility is in order, not just for humanity but also for me.

Most important, God does love me. Despite my pride and despite my self-centeredness, God is kind and giving to me. I can trust him to give me what I need and to help me along in life and my journey of discipleship.

None of this is really new knowledge; I think of these two passages from Paul frequently. I guess I need a lot of reinforcement. Yes I am following Jesus, and I am growing in the Holy Spirit, but the bottom line is that I still have a long way to go. I’m a work in progress. That’s okay with me, and apparently it’s okay with God too.


  1. Praise God!