Posted by: JennyRain | May 20, 2010

Sick in Africa

The first week we were in Africa I was sick.

Not a big deal except sickness has eluded me for the better part of the last few years.

A few headaches here and there, some sinus sniffles, a couple of sour tummies, but the three-week colds I used to get have been very sparse since 2005.

Until my first week in Africa.

My first morning in Africa was spent in a fever-induced la la land.

We had just spent over thirty-eight hours on various planes, trains, and automobiles and our team was getting set to trek up a winding bumpy road to a remote Burundian village. My body was shifting between chills and sweats. My throat was swollen, sore, and raw and no amount of tea or advil was moderating my suffering.

As we entered into the Range Rover my teammates mercifully put me in the front seat nearest the air – though I was clinging tightly to my fall jacket.

I knew the typical course colds ran through my body and was depressed thinking about the next few days knowing it would only get worse from here.

Seriously God? A cold/flu mix? The two things I prayed for were safety and health and I have this?

I was miserable.

And my feelings were kind of hurt that God did not listen to my prayers.

I thought…

On the second day of my fever-induced-misery, God led me to this scripture…

Cast all of your cares on Him, because He cares for you… be alert, your enemy is on the prowl seeking someone to devour… resist him and stand firm in faith…

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. (1 Peter 5:7-10)

I was instantly encouraged. There is something about feasting on scriptural encouragement that can bolster your strength.

The next few days, God did exactly what He said He would do – strengthen and establish me.

By God’s grace, every morning I arose – miserable – but by the time training started, my nose had cleared and my voice had returned enough for me to train.

The minute I stopped training – my nose filled back up and my voice began to disappear.

Coincidence? Doubtful.

Provision? Likely.

Additionally, two months prior to the trip I had a toothache that required antibiotics.

The doctor thought I had an infection bad enough to warrant a root canal, I thought he just was after my money.

He put me on antibiotics to prevent the spread of the infection.

I never took them.

Mysteriously, my tooth pain disappeared the same day of the appointment.

On a “whim” when I was packing for the trip I just happened to throw the full bottle of Amoxicillin into my first-aid baggie.

“Can’t hurt,” I thought.

The second day I was sick I discovered the Amoxicillin and immediately began taking it.

It prevented the illness from moving into my chest and ears, either area of which could knock me out for additional sick days and potentially prevent me from getting back on the plane to return home.

Again, provision available before I even was aware I would have need of it.

My body was aching from fatigue.

Both the long trip out and the cold were taking their toll.

But because of the schedule of the retreat – including the travel time up to the retreat center – I was able to sneak thirty, forty-five, or hour naps here and there.

Despite bumpy, winding roads, I was able to sleep soundly.
Despite a chaotic schedule, there were slots of time that I could lay down.

Those forty-five minute naps? I slept like a rock.

I am still convinced God magnified those short naps so what was actually thirty minutes in real time was two hours in God time.


By the end of the first week, I was completely on the mend.

What typically took two-and-a-half to three weeks to progress through my body had run its course in less than five days.
What should have caused me to lose my voice for at least two-and-a-half days only sporadically attacked my voice.
What usually had me so snot-nosed I could not sleep, eat, talk, or breathe mysteriously evaporated just when I needed it to.
And what often kept me up all night coughing never manifested.

Provision. Everywhere.

Somewhere toward the end of the first week I realized the abundant grace God had provided me with in the midst of my sickness.

When that realization hit me – I wrapped myself in a holy silence to savor God’s gift to me.

It could have been so much worse.
It should have been so much worse.

But God…

This trip reminded me that if you are on the front lines of the faith battle, you are in a war zone.

Often it is a war that you cannot escape – so you are stuck in the middle of the battle-field clinging to your shield with the arrows flying all around you.

A missionary couple that I am friends with have had two years of literal suffering for Jesus. One tragedy after another has struck this young couple and yet they are clinging to God and to the call He has on their life with a fierceness that continues to amaze me. They were just home for furlough and could not wait to get back on the field. Even though they both knew that the field would equal continued suffering.

I did not understand this until this trip.

See, God reminded me that it is often when we are suffering that He is shining most brightly. He reminded me that to depend on myself is foolishness, but to rely on Him is wisdom. He helped me understand that I often ask for His grace, but then do not slow down long enough to see it all around me. He showed me that it is not by power or might that things are accomplished on the field, but by His spirit working through me.

So being sick was a bummer… but seeing God’s grace through that experience of being sick was a beautiful reminder of the eternal goodness of God – in, through, and by all things.

God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work…2 Cor 9:8

…our sufficiency is from God… 2 Cor 3:5




  1. Jenny,
    God really is amazing that way, isn’t He. Provision, that is a very good way to describe what He does to clear the path for us. God Bless

  2. So I just discovered your blog, and loved this post. It’s so crazy how God works…way beyond our way of thinking. We are known by Him. I had a similar kind of experience when I went to Guatemala two years ago. My asthma started acting up really badly–pretty much had a full blown attack, and had to go to the hospital and then I got a stomach bug. Yet, I would not trade that time for anything–the way I experienced God during that trip was beyond words. Awesome to hear how God provided for you while in Africa. God Bless!

    • Isn’t God amazing like that? Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your story too! God is good!

  3. I didn’t get sick on my big trip to Europe and N. Africa this spring—but I somehow missed packing a crucial medicine. Thankfully there was a doctor at the conference I attended the first week. I told him what I was missing, asked him how crucial it was, and asked if I need a script for it in Hungary or if there was an OTC that was comparable there. The next morning he brought me a bottle of pills that combined two of my meds (the inexpensive one I forgot and an expensive one I had with me). Someone else attending the conference had them wrongly prescribed and brought them along “just in case”. God’s provision is amazing!

  4. I love that He’s faithful. Those things that come across our path that we’re like what??? Only to see the benefit of them later.

  5. I’ve never read that verse of Peter. But I think it is now the verse that represents my life.

    Thank you for writing it here.

  6. Amazing. You are simply amazing!

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