My prayer was short and desperate, and I uttered it several times during the night. A vicious stomach flu had invaded our camp and attacked one person after another. Finally it struck Gene. Three hours later it hit me.
The virus kept us awake nearly all night and flattened us with hourly bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. When morning dawned, Gene slowly rolled out of bed and prepared to teach our English class. I remained in the prone position, afraid to roll over lest the slightest movement trigger nausea again.
When the flu first struck a couple of days prior, my friend Ewa had assumed the role of a modern-day Florence Nightingale. She’d attended to other staff and campers; now it was time to check on us. She groaned when she entered our room and saw my green face. “Oh my friend,” she said, handing me a packet of electrolyte powder. “Mix this with a cup of hot water and take little sips over the next hour.” Then she gave me a packet of mystery powder. “Mix this with a small amount of water and drink now. Trust me.” Then she dashed from our room to continue her rounds among the sick.
The reality of spending the entire last day of camp in bed, too weak to sit or stand, left me feeling like a failure. This wasn’t the way camp was supposed to end. I’d planned to help decorate the dining area for the evening’s closing party. I’d anticipated enjoying the banquet and celebrating the campers’ English-learning achievements. The award ceremony was supposed to end the week on a joyful note. But joy was far from what I felt as I lay in bed, listening to the party happening three floors below.
Why did the mission trip end like this for me and several others? I don’t have the answer. The same is true for other disappointments in life. Things happen…situations for which we have no explanation. Tough stuff sometimes, circumstances that flatten us and leave us with strength only to cry a short, desperate prayer: “God, help.” And He does.
In my situation He sent Ewa and her mystery medication. He gave me a much-needed solid night’s sleep when the party noise ended. And He gave me the ability to let go of the disappointment caused by dashed expectations.
How about you? Have you recently experienced a situation in which you could do nothing but cry, “God, help”? If so, what was it? And how did He answer?