“I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls…”
(2 Cor. 12:15 emphasis added.)
It had been a long day, longer than usual. Yet another student had fallen ill at the discipleship training school I serve at … and it was far from pretty. Being a dorm mom, you assume a lot of “mom-type” responsibilities and tonight was just one of those nights. I could literally feel the last ounce of strength ebbing from my frame as I tried to fight the quickly-spreading virus with disinfectant and fever reducer.
This mom-thing was hard.
I was exhausted.
And I just knew I would be the next victim.
I mean, how could I not? I had not been just exposed to the virus, we were practically holding hands in the space we shared!
I breathed a simple prayer. God, You know it all. I CAN’T get sick, but I entrust myself to You as Your faithful servant. It sounds trifling – praying not to get sick. But God knew the thoughts of my heart and my desire to continue serving Him with strength and joy to the end of this season.
I was freshly reminded of a powerful history lesson I learned about the infamous plague, the Black Death. At a low point in the 14th century, half of Europe had perished from the bubonic plague. While those in health felt they had no choice but to lay their sick loved ones in the city streets to be claimed by disease with hopes to preserve those who hadn’t contracted the plague, it was the Christians who took an enormous risk.
Armed with ladles of broth, fresh water, and Christlike compassion, they took to the streets to minister to the sick and dying. Bands of Good Samaritans laid aside thoughts of self-preservation and anchored their hope in an eternal reality. With an endless supply of Christlike love, they joyfully dispensed practical nursing along with a dose of the Good News which had the power to heal Europe of the worst plague of all – sin. How could the redeemed refrain from laying down their lives for the Gospel so that those who needed it most had a chance of eternal life?
The death-defying witness of the early Christians spread quickly and soon a murmur rumbled in the streets from the whispers of townspeople, “See how they love one another!”
This recorded statement has transcended six centuries as proof that “they will know we are Christians by our love” (see John 13:35). Not our love of self, but a desire to deny self, even to our own detriment or discomfort.
Miraculously, the Christians’ health was upheld, and while science can seemingly explain the immortality of those who loved the lost more than their own lives, their givenness spoke volumes to me in the face of temptation to reach for Purell over a mighty faith in Jehovah Rapha, our Healer!
That story taught me two keys to joyful living. Joy does not correspond with my health, my energy level, or my bank account but in the amount of His love I share with others. And second, when these two actions are coupled together, they have the power to radically turn the world upside down for His glory. Paul stood behind this principle when he told the Corinthian church, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls…” (2 Cor. 12:15 emphasis added.)
Taking courage at the reality of that promise, I knew that the joy of the Lord could be my strength (see Nehemiah 8:10). While there was nothing natural in me that wanted to say no to self and yes to germs, the love of Christ compelled me, supplying that which I needed to gladly spend as unto the Lord. His protection surrounding my health inevitably followed.
A love for Christ and His message of hope is a propeller to go into all the world without a second thought of self. And even history echoes down the halls of time that being in the center of God’s will is the healthiest, most joyful place we could ever be!
P.S. If this topic resonates with you, you should join us at this year’s Set Apart Conference! Eric and Leslie will be sharing how to have a heavenly perspective in all the trials and joys of life! Be equipped with the truth and tools you need in order to flourish through ALL circumstances – it’s truly a game-changer!