Dealing with a cold

There's nothing like writing about something to bring about a test in what you've just written. Back in the autumn I preached on being joyful always and the week after that Sunday was characterised by loneliness, poor health, and a prayerful and polite rejection of me by a girl I was interested in!

So now, having posted about keeping a heavenly perspective, I have been struck with a cold which has rapidly dominating all my thinking. I won't go into the details of the symptoms because that won't bless you, but here are some thoughts on how I'm trying to cope:

1. Rest well.
Your body is focusing on dealing with this illness, so limiting your other activities will help it do this. I've tried to get some extra sleep, with mixed results, and worked from home rather than in the office. I know I'm privileged to have that as an option, but whatever your situation try to dial down. (It's moments like this that I wonder how on earth I'll cope when I have dependents around me - this period of convalescence affects only me, really. A pile of work building up for next week is concerning, but I'm not having to look after anyone else whilst struggling with staying awake/coherent/caring. If you're a parent, and a single parent especially, may God give you all the grace you need.)

2. Eat well.
"Feed a cold, starve a fever" is the advice, apparently, and I'm all for obeying it. Once I finish off the apple waiting patiently next to me I'll have had my five portions for the day, with a meal to spare. The last couple of years I've eaten a lot more healthily and have found (surprise, surprise) that I have been more healthy. This is a trend I have to continue when I'm feeling 'ill'. Although it usually takes longer and there's more to wash up, I try cook fresh meals most days of the week, although there is a pizza in the freezer for emergencies!

3. Expect temptation and prepare for it.
Forewarned is forearmed. I have a cold, so my body is weaker and I'm more tired, and I'm on my own. I know what this means for me: I'm a prime temptation target. Sometimes we seem to 'slip' into temptation - a couple of unhelpful thoughts lead us to a place we didn't think we wanted to be in. I may still be a fool sometimes, but I won't be fooled. I don't slip into temptation, I stumble towards it. I've had a few despairing and confused thoughts flying round my head these past couple of days; how shall I deal with them? Succumbing to temptation will make me feel worse, so I won't do that. I recognise that these thoughts are probably occurring because I'm not at my best and so they don't represent reality. Then I go on the offensive with God's truth: in this case that He has great plans for me, has used me in the past and will use me now too.

4. Rejoice in the Lord always.
This command comes from the apostle Paul's letter to the Philippians (4:4), and was written when he was under house arrest. If he could rejoice then, surely I can rejoice now. As someone who likes to be physically lively in my praise to God, I can find myself frustrated when my body really can't cope. But what’s important about joy is not its expression but its object. Or, put another way, what causes you joy is more important than how you express it. So a football fan may leap and dance and sing when their team scores a goal, but how transient a cause of joy is that, even for the best of teams? But if a person can, in the midst of illness, confusion or uncertainty, smile a hard-won smile as they consider Christ’s greatness, is not their joy the greater because its cause is eternal and glorious? So I'm going to keeping praising God (perhaps more quietly than usual), and spend some time reading the Bible and a Christian book - I know these things will help remind me of what is important, and thus realign my perspective. And if I have to keep reaching for the tissues as I read, then I guess I'll just have to thank Him for the invention of Kleenex Balsam, and that I have been promised a heavenly body in the life to come!