Baby Livingstone will be two weeks old tomorrow. I've been on antibiotics for mastitis for almost 48 hours, and I am feeling significantly improved. The hemorrhaging at the hospital made the recovery at home more challenging then I had expected, but as the fatigue and aching turned into fever and pain, I acquiesced to getting medical attention. I had my first completely fever-free day yesterday in over a week. It was unbelievably wonderful to get in bed without chills, and to not wake up for a feeding covered in sweat. I finally feel like I'm on the road to recovery. I was thinking in bed the other night (while Ibuprofen gave no relief to my chills) about my limited understanding of suffering. I laid there exhausted, shivering, dreading the next feeding, unable to sleep, and feeling entitled to being bitter and grumpy. And yet, even in the midst of a full-blown pity party, the words of the Apostle Paul surfaced with surprising clarity:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
...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 everything through him who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:4, 11-13)
Paul, who experienced greater suffering, both physically and emotionally, than I have ever known, wrote these words in his letter to the Philippians. With his own obstacles in mind, he exhorts his readers to rejoice always (v. 4), to combat anxiety with prayer and thanksgiving (v. 6-7), and to set our minds on praiseworthy thinking (v. 8-9). While I have oftentimes considered Philippians 4:13 encouraging and promising, I have not always meditated on it in the context of hardship and suffering, as Paul writes. Paul does not provide a caveat to rejoicing always, to rejecting anxiety, nor to contentment. Instead, he reveals that we can experience the Lord's bounty in joy, peace, contentment, and strength while in the midst of the most difficult of circumstances. Which mastitis comes convincingly close (and all who have experienced it, say Amen!)...but ultimately is not.
The Lord is faithful to heal our sickness and to give relief for our weariness, but He is even more gracious to mold and shape our faith in the very midst of the trials He allows, carries us through, and ultimately receives glory from. Isn't he good.
Here's another picture of His goodness: