Girl sinking under a white wool blanket

Getting Ill Showed Me God’s Grace

By Mackenzie King, Australia 

Dread gripped my heart when my Covid test returned positive.

My throat had started stinging late one evening, and it had turned up the intensity of its “fieryness” the next day. I had just returned from a big family holiday overseas and so, I figured the dry, stinging throat had more to do with me gorging on oily dim sums and speaking above my normal volume in busy train stations to make myself heard above the din.

I also didn’t think I’d catch Covid. I have had five vaccines (plus my flu shot) and have managed to avoid catching it for years . . .  until that very morning when my test returned positive.

“I’m going to starve to death,” I wailed silently as I thought of my empty pantry , especially after being overseas for nearly three weeks. I live alone with my dog, and while she’s wonderful as a companion, she isn’t a lot of help in other practical aspects, like picking up the groceries from the supermarket or cooking a meal. 

So, I spent the wee hours of the morning topping up my grocery orders online and organised a telehealth consultation with my doctor. 

While I frantically did what I could to look after myself, God was using that downtime to upend a few fears in me and show me how much He cared for me:

He provides for His sheep 

In my unfounded fear that I’d be starving, I dumped lots of extra food into my shopping cart. (Little did I know how tired I’d be to do any real cooking!) 

However, I didn’t have to worry because as soon as I told my family and friends I was sick with Covid, messages offering help came pouring in. Someone said he could drop my groceries off at my house if I needed them, another friend came by twice with a care package filled with homecooked food and fruits, while others had food sent to me via delivery apps. It came to a point where I was running out of space to store all these foods in my fridge. 

Each meal delivery and text to check in to see how I was doing showed me that I have a God who looks after His children, right down to the smallest detail. For instance, I was really craving porridge because my fiery throat made it really hard to swallow, and my friend who brought home-cooked meals for me had a container of porridge in her care package (and I didn’t tell her I was after congee). 

The experience has brought to life one of my favourite verses, Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd and I lack nothing”  (v 1) because I truly didn’t lack anything—I was provided with food, medicines, and a place to rest (my green couch, which I guess, is almost like the “green pastures” (v 2) the psalmist talks about). 

He’s given me a community I can rely on

Another fear that constantly played at the back of my mind was, “Can I really rely on people to help me out in times of need?”. I understand how terrible this sounds, especially after years of being at the receiving end of a lot of kindness from strangers, and of being given help in the time of need. Yet, it’s a constant nag that lives rent-free in my head. 

The biggest test came when my dog munched through a small packet of chicken-flavoured chips I had accidentally left on my sofa. It was only when I heard the rustling of an empty chip packet that I realised what she had done, and a quick look at the ingredients showed the chips contained onion powder, which is hazardous for dogs. 

I hurriedly logged onto a 24/7 web vet to ask if my dog had to be brought in for a physical check-up, and when they said “yes” my mind went into a frizz wondering who I could ring. I knew I could ring my sister, but my mind whirred, wondering whether there was anyone else I could ring if my sister and brother-in-law were unable to take my dog. 

As a last resort, I thought of troubling my life group members for help (although to be super honest, I thought of driving into the vet myself, Covid and all, but I knew it would be very selfish of me to do so).  Thankfully, my sister was able to race my dog to the emergency vet and she produced a clean bill of health after an induced vomit and a blood test (while I was left with a bill of $500). 

As I updated my life group with what was happening, I was comforted in knowing that should I hit a dead end, a few of them were more than happy to bring my dog to the vet’s. Just knowing they were sincerely willing to help has helped me realise that God is indeed Jehovah Jireh, my Provider (Genesis 22), and He has given me a wonderful community I can trust in my time of need.

His grace is sufficient for my present moment 

I have been single for years and the desire to get married diminishes with each year. But what hasn’t fully gone away is my constant catastrophising of a million “what ifs”, like whether I would die alone with no one noticing till weeks later, or what would happen if I had gone missing and no one would alert the authorities, or if I broke a limb and had no one to help me with chores around the house.

Author Sam Allberry noted in his book, 7 Myths about Singleness, that he battles with such fears too, where he’d imagine worst-case scenarios happening to him, but without “factoring in the presence and grace of God that would be there if they [the worst-case scenarios] actually happened”. He wrote: “Replaying those scenarios over and over in our mind is therefore not helpful, and actually factors out what God would be doing were it ever to happen. We’re imagining life in that situation without God’s presence.” 

And how true that was for me. All the hypothetical situations I conjured up in my head didn’t include God in any of them. It all boiled down to me relying on my strength to get me through each of them, which may or may not happen. 

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul tells us that God’s grace is sufficient for us, for His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), and I believe I finally understand what this means. He’s saying the grace and strength He gives us are tailor-made for each event we’re going through. Like the manna from heaven that He gives daily to the Israelites, His grace is given to us in our present situation—He meets us exactly where we are and doles out precisely enough grace for us in that particular moment. 

In His grace, He’s given me the people needed at this current time to help me and He gave me just about enough physical strength so I could still get up in the mornings, even if it was just for a very short while, to feed and play with my dog. 

Therefore, there’s no reason for me to panic about situations and circumstances that are yet unknown and beyond my control, because I know that no matter what may happen, God will provide me with the needed tools and resources to get through them. 

He moves us to be His hands and feet 

I received a lot of love and support during my recovery period, from the food delivered to my door, to people checking up on me, and seeing I was still alive. (Coincidentally, another friend had Covid the same time as me and it was nice having someone in the same boat.) 

These simple gestures brightened my day and made me feel so loved and “seen” that I’ve been inspired to give back to those around me so others will get to experience the same care and love I received in their times of trouble.

Scripture says we’re to be the hands and feet of Jesus (Mark 10:45, John 13:14-15), and this means meeting a need when we see one. For me, it could look like being the support person for my neighbour when she’s hit with an anxiety attack, inviting people who are down in the dumps over for a coffee and a cuddle with my dog, or doing a meal or a grocery run for someone in need. 

In doing so, we’re also shining the light of Christ to those around us. We don’t have to kill ourselves by doing over-the-top acts of kindness, but we can all start by carrying out simple tasks that can bring great joy to the person. 

Covid was a terrible “souvenir” to have brought back from my overseas travels. However, in hindsight, it allowed me to experience God’s providence and grace, and an assurance that come what may in the future, I won’t be left in the cold to fend for myself. 

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