What a wonderful retreat that was! It was nearly Christmas, and we had just returned from our mission’s annual retreat for the missionaries in East Africa. It was at a nice lodge at Lake Naivasha…idyllic, comfortable, peaceful, good service. What more could we ask for? We had no sooner arrived at our home in Nyeri, Kenya (in the Mt. Kenya region) when people started not feeling well in their tummies. We had brought back with us an elderly couple, who’s main entertainment seemed to be giving each other verbal digs and engaging in mock verbal battles. We weren’t sure how to react to this couple’s banter! In addition, the gentleman had begun to show sure signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Our 18-month-old son was first. He began vomiting violently and running from the other end just as badly. He had a fever to boot. Oh dear, what could be wrong? Next, my own innards began acting up, with several of the same symptoms. Clearly this was becoming a family affair. I was also expecting our 2nd child at this time, so the discomfort was amplified. When Josh did not improve after a couple days, Chip kindly volunteered to take Joshua the 2 hours’ drive to Nairobi to a children’s hospital. The elderly gentleman insisted on accompanying Chip and they took off. Mom stayed home and worried. It was not long on the journey when it was discovered that the elder missionary had been seized with the same ailment. On top of that, he began to experience confusion as well. Poor Chip! It was like having 2 ill children on his hands.
Meanwhile, I was home in Nyeri, feeling quite sick, worried about the guys in Nairobi, and also taking care of the elderly lady who, though not very sick, was not feeling completely on top of things. She, in turn, was worried about her husband, keenly aware of his episodes of disorientation whenever things were topsy-turvy.
At the hospital, Joshua was diagnosed with a severe bacterial infection (We discovered later that several missionaries who had been at that lodge had become quite ill, with apparently, the same thing). The major concern was dehydration and controlling the loss of body fluids. They gave Chip medications for Joshua and advised him to stay in Nairobi overnight; that if the vomiting and diarrhoea could not be controlled by morning, they would want to admit our son. That night was a waking nightmare for Chip, staying overnight in a small camping trailer with a very sick baby and a very disoriented elderly man, who was clearly distressed with not having his wife near him and staying in a strange place.
Thankfully, the morning brought better news. Somewhere in the wee hours, Josh began keeping small amounts of liquid down, his fever broke, and the elderly gent settled down. Chip got a few hours’ sleep. Later, at the children’s hospital, the doctor pronounced Josh on the mend, armed them with lots of medications and advice, and released them to return home, which they did gladly.
By the time the men returned, they found the ladies feeling considerably better, and even Chip’s elderly companion was feeling better, both physically and emotionally. Josh took longer to make progress but was keeping down increasingly larger amounts of liquid. A neighbourhood Christmas Eve party had been planned for a couple days later. We informed our neighbours that we would have to play it by ear as to whether we would be able to attend.
The Big Day arrived. We were still unsure. But during the course of the day, Joshua improved so rapidly that by dinner time, we were pretty certain we could go for a short time. Josh had started nibbling on crackers by then. When we all arrived at the party, and settled into the festivities, Joshua was incessantly asking for food, greedily eyeing the goodies spread on the table. Guess he could not resist the great sights and smells. We finally gave up trying to control what he ate and how much. He had some catching up to do, after several days of no food! We finally turned him loose, figuring we may regret it later. The anticipated regrets never materialized. That little boy pigged out to his heart’s content and clearly enjoyed the Christmas festivities as much as all the adults present. We obviously had our cheerful, ebullient boy back. What a huge relief!
Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning”. That time of Joshua’s illness felt like a long night, with tears, fears, and anxiety. There are many periods of such stress and discouragement in the seasons of our lives. But what an encouragement it is to know that such times do not last a lifetime. This, too, shall pass. The morning comes, and with it, often, at least eventually, joy, comfort, answered prayer. Just as the speed with which our son recovered, once he turned the corner in his illness, amazed us, so it is with other seasons of anxiety in our lives. Sometimes, we are amazed at how God answers. Naturally, not everyone’s seasons of difficulty and pain is the same as everyone else’s. Additionally, some seasons are long, and others are short. But for me, it has been a valuable lesson to learn that no matter what the length of the ‘night’ or the severity of the trial I may be going through, there is a morning coming, and likely, with it will come the joy, the release, the peace.