It had been happening for more than a month. When I ate, I would be overcome with coughing fits. When I lay down to sleep, the coughing would restart. Whenever I got tired, the coughing intensified and worsened. The worst thing was, it just wouldn’t stop!
You see, I had a sever flu about a month ago. After a few days of fevers and cold-like symptoms, I felt better. However, the cough lingered. And lingered. And lingered some more.
Throughout the day I coughed. Each night, I fell asleep with a cough drop in my mouth, asking God to help me not choke when I fell asleep.
It affected me as I led workshops at Mantours. It got so bad that I lost my voice from coughing so much after the last conference. The extreme cough made my back hurt, my ribs hurt, and gave me headaches. To say I was frustrated was an understatement!
This was not a new problem for me. Ever since I almost died from pneumonia some 18 years ago, any time I get a cold, my coughs always linger. But this time it lingered longer than normal, and it had more of a physical effect than normal.
As the cough plagued me, I found myself whining to God. Why did this have to happen? Why couldn’t it just go away? Why couldn’t he just heal me? Like an annoyed child, I complained to God, frustrated as to why he just didn’t make it go away.
Recently, I learned why. My sister and I went to conference for a few days. It was a special event where, at the end, we would both receive our ordination as ministers, a special honor I never thought I would experience. The day we arrived, it was really hot, and our hotel room was sticky and warm. We saw some friends enjoying the pool, so we went to hang out outside in a cool evening breeze.
While there, my sister struck up a conversation with an older woman sitting at a neighboring table. Eventually she came and sat with us to talk. As we talked, she shared that her husband was a doctor. Inevitably, talk of what we did came up, and the women started to get a little uncomfortable when we said we were ministers. Throughout the conversation, my cough raged on.
As we talked, the woman politely said she didn’t believe in God or religion. She believed in love, but that was about that. She told of us various Muslim and Indian religious ceremonies she had attended whenever we mentioned anything about God. She would also tell about all the good things she did as far as charity and helping with medical trips to foreign countries. We didn’t preach at her, but we did let her know we loved and served God and why. She politely listened but always diverted away. All the time, my cough raged on.
Eventually, she couldn’t ignore the cough anymore and asked what was wrong, did I have allergies, etc. I told her how the cough just lingered and wouldn’t go away. I said it had been that way since I had pneumonia many years ago.
This peaked her interest, probably because of her husband’s background in medicine. As a result, I got to tell her all about how, 18 years ago, I had severe pneumonia that the doctors couldn’t help. They tried everything, but my illness got worse and my fevers crossed the safe threshold and stayed there for days. The doctors told my parents I was going to die. Best case was I would live and have brain issues from the fever. The told them to get my things in order, I wasn’t coming home.
Then I got to tell her how I had a supernatural healing from God, confirmed by the doctors. God touched me, healed me, and there was no damage. The unsaved doctors gave God the credit for the healing, they admitted it was not anything they had done.
I got to tell this woman who denied there was a God but believed in medicine and the medical profession how God had healed me. Because of the annoying cough I had been whining and complaining about, we were able to meet her on a level she could relate to and show her God’s love and power on terms she understood. God used something I felt was evil and a huge pain in the butt and used it for his good.
So why am I telling you this? Because maybe, like me, you are facing a tough situation or circumstance in your life. Maybe there is something in your life that you just can’t understand or know why it is there and why you have to go through it. Maybe you’re frustrated with God for not taking it away. While you may hate it, God may have plans for it. God may have plans to use what you see as a bad thing for his good. Who knows what he will accomplish with your situation. I have learned it isn’t my place to understand, it is my place to follow, through the highs and lows, the good times and the bad.
I hope this article encourages you that God knows what he is doing. While we may not like it or not see it as necessary, he knows how he will take it and use it for his glory.
BTW, since that night, my cough is all but gone. It served its purpose. God removed it when He finished using it. Be encouraged, God knows what he is doing!
“That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” Romans 8:28 (The Message)