September 14, 2020
“Kahit wala pang swab test, I’m sure you have COVID.” That’s what my doctor said on my third day in the COVID wing. I had never thought that I would be part of the COVID-19 statistics I see on the daily news.
My fever started on July 9, 2020. Before I received the diagnosis, my only symptoms were ten days of fever and shortness of breath on the eleventh day. It was the beginning of a month of painful ordeal—not just for me, but also for my family.
I had been very keen on following the safety protocols: washing my hands, wearing a face mask, and social distancing. But in spite of being cautious, I still caught the dreaded virus. I pleaded with God to protect my wife and my kids, who were with me in the first days I had the symptoms.
I was emotionally and mentally drained. But surprisingly, my spirit was renewed. There was a revival that happened in Room 8012. In the ten days on that hospital bed, God taught me these lessons:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10 (NIV)
In John 10:10, we can see that the warning came before the promise. The enemy’s goal is to keep us away from living the life God wants us to live. The greatest lie that Satan puts in our hearts is that life is all about survival.
I remember that my first three days in the hospital were the hardest. My lungs could not breathe without an oxygen tank. My blood needed to be cleaned.
The most traumatic moment for me was when I was put in a room together with other patients. I saw a woman literally shouting at the top of her lungs. She died right in front of my bed.
The reality of death had never been closer to me until I experienced COVID.
There were discouraging thoughts in my head: “Maybe I got this virus because of my sin and failures.”
“Maybe I didn’t deserve to live.”
“Maybe even if I survived, I’ll always live a defeated life.”
But God reminded me that healing was part of my salvation when I surrendered my life to Christ. My recovery will just take time. There’s no victory without a fight. That is why I thank God every day I wake up because He’s given me victory.
Indeed, “Every gising is a blessing.”
I learned that our goal shouldn’t be to live a comfortable life, but to live a devoted life. How many times have we asked God to give us what we want? How many of those prayers were about the things we actually need?
Even though there’s nothing wrong with asking God to give us the desires of our hearts, we should delight in Him first (Psalm 37:4). I find comfort in being with my family at home, and we’re always together no matter what. But this was the first and longest time we were separated from each other.
My wife Joei was under quarantine at home. Our daughters were with their lolo and lola in the province. For almost two weeks, I was alone in the hospital with tubes attached to my body.
To say that it was uncomfortable was an understatement. I begged God to heal me instantly so that I could go home and be with my family. I was so desperate that it was as if I were twisting the hand of God just to give me what I wanted.
But just like Jacob, I felt powerless wrestling with God. The more impatient I got, the more pain I felt. The first battle I needed to win was the fight of patience.
My feelings were valid to God, but I needed to acknowledge that there were bigger things than my desires and that these should happen for His glory. The only time I understood the heart of God was when I began to surrender everything to Him in worship. John 4:24 says that we must worship Him in spirit and in truth.
In that moment, it meant leaving my own comfort and aligning my heart with God’s. He needs to remove the planks from our eyes so that we can see Him more clearly. Worship magnifies the Lord. The more we draw close to Him, the more we see Him.
Doctors said that severe and critical COVID-19 cases take 30 to 90 days before being discharged from the hospital. Before I was brought to Room 8012, I was given a chance to talk to my wife. We were full of hope, but given the difficult reality we were in, there was no telling if that conversation was our last.
When you are facing the threat of death, you reflect on your life and realize that life is really not in your hands.
No matter how difficult it is, do not allow pain to make you lose sight of God. Keep on focusing on Him. The apostle Paul said, “. . . for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10, NIV).
Those weeks were hard, but God provided miracles every day. I believe God does not waste pain. Each test is a testimony. Your story is somebody else’s story of hope. Jesus is the center of your story.
It’s all about Him, and not about us.
In this unprecedented time, the world is facing crises of every kind. Many are filled with sadness, fear, and pain. But I want to encourage you with this: Whatever you may be going through, keep holding on to our faithful God.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)