I've been in bed for several days, sick with what turned out to be an intestinal infection. Being down for any amount of time, as any mother knows, is difficult for the whole family. I think with all the housework, schoolwork and ministry tasks that inevitably pile up, a woman tends to feel like time in bed is wasted time (unless she is advising another woman to rest ;o) But down time doesn't have to be "wasted" time. Here are some practical ways to make it profitable:
Pray. Prayer is a daily thing, but how often does a wife and homeschooling mother have this much time on her hands to just talk to God? Talk to Him about the things that have been pushed back in your mind, that you haven't brought before Him; the things that cause you stress or fear (and might have caused your illness). Pray for your husband, especially if he is picking up the slack in the household duties; pray for each of your children, or better yet, pray with each of them (unless your illness is contagious). Of course, pray about your infirmity. Ask Him if there is something He wants you to learn right now. Ask for cleansing of your body and spirit, and for healing. Pray for others in your life who have needs, and pray for missionaries. It's amazing how much better you feel when your focus is on praying for others.
Think. What is going on in your life? If you are feeling up to it, down time can be valuable time to think about priorities and make sure things are on track. Do you have personal spiritual goals, or goals for your children? It's surprising how clearly you can think when you have rested. Instead of worrying about how high Mount Washmore is growing in your laundry room, try to think of a better system for keeping it caught up when you are well. Write things down, so that you will remember them later.
Don't think. Not to be confusing, but there are some things to avoid thinking about when you are ill. When you are not feeling well, it is easy for the devil to affect your thoughts. Give this over to the Lord, and don't let your mind become filled with thoughts of doubtful or dark things, or regrets from the past that are already under the blood of Jesus. Also, don't dwell on all the stuff you were fretting about when you got sick. It will still be there another day when you are strong enough to face it. Right now you need a break.
Read. I like to stick to the Bible and other helpful books. Hopeful, lighthearted topics are nice. If you're nauseated, you probably don't want to read about when wicked Queen Jezebel was pushed out her window, and when she landed... Well, you know how that ends. You get the idea. Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
Listen. Listen to God. And listen to your body. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and your Creator equipped your body with helpful signals that tell you what you need and what you don't need. Instead of automatically popping a pill to mask pain or discomfort, pay attention to it and address the real issue, not the symptom.
Rest. I saved the most obvious one for last because it balances them all. Physically, your body needs rest so that it can set to the task of healing. Spiritually, we all need to rest in the Lord, trust in His goodness, and experience real peace.
Illnesses can occur for all sorts of reasons: poor diet, stress, exposure to extreme elements or to other sick people. But if you are a child of God (and even if you are not), nothing touches you without His consent. Therefore, there is always a divine purpose for the illness. God may be getting your attention about something, whether physical (such as what you're feeding your body) or spiritual (such as sin or bitterness issues). He may be teaching the family more about pulling together and nurturing one another. He may simply be cleansing your body of toxins that have been building up inside. It is important to take time to recuperate, and experience the cleansing, inside and out, that is the benefit of having suffered an illness.
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. III John 1:2