several years ago, I came across a profound statement which says: “In life, pain is inevitable. It is either the pain of discipline, or the pain of regret.” Afterwards, I have read and heard this statement on several different occasions. And I want to believe that you too have come across the statement.
On a general note, humans don’t like pains. In fact, I can say that
some people became Christians because a preacher promised them being a Christian would exonerate them from every kind of pain in this life – the pain of sickness, poverty, losing a beloved one, accidents, natural disasters, etc. That makes me want to as those people about their experience since they became Christians.
One of the ancient men that have existed on this earth was Job. He once declared: “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble”. This statement is so philosophically and theologically profound that it’s recorded in the most reliable book on earth (See Job 14:1). And the longer we live the more we realize that indeed, pain is part of man’s life – at least, in this fallen world.
Yesterday I had a near-death experience. I fell sick between late morning and late afternoon. Within those few hours, I thought I was going to die, because of the pains I was going through. I was in acute pains, but even the person close to me didn’t realize it. I couldn’t do anything – not even to answer calls – except to just lie down. Even lying down was another trouble. All I could do was to say a silent and brief prayer to God – which I am not sure was even understandable to humans.
What happened? It all started in May, 2016. I came back from a mission outreach on Saturday, and on Sunday I went to Church for morning service. About thirty minutes after the service was closed, I began to feel sharp pain just between stomach and chest. I didn’t know what the pain was. So I ignored it. But the pain persisted; in fact, it increased within few minutes. I decided to go to a friend’s house and rest a little before going home since my house was far from the church. But before I could get to my friend’s house, the pain had become so severe that I couldn’t speak. That was when the reality dawned on me: I needed to go to hospital. But in the meantime, my friend’s wife gave me some drugs and I took. After taking them, I vomited and I felt a little relieved.
The following day, I went to hospital. After some tests and scan were conducted on me, the diagnosis came out. That was when I had my first encounter with the two strangest words that I had ever seen until then: gastritis and enteritis. What could they mean? And I’m not the person that likes asking doctors many questions. Thank God for google! As soon as I typed the words, I got response from our 21st century friend, Mr. Google. What our friend told me about these two words brought some relief to me – at least, now I know what’s wrong with my health. I knew it wasn’t some poison that I took at the outreach. It wasn’t some witch from village that wanted to send me to the after world while I’m still in my youth days.
Mr. Google told me that gastritis simply refers to the inflammation of the stomach, and enteritis simply refers to the inflammation of the intestines. Both are caused by stress, fatty and oily foods, carbonated drinks, caffeinated drinks, acidic fruits, cigarette, excessive alcohol, etc. Well, I have never taken alcohol in my life. As for cigarette, thank God for the gift of Jesus in my life – He saved me from smoking addiction since 2000. But apart from these two, the rest of the causative factors had been my buddies for more than a decade. So I didn’t argue with our friend Mr. Google. And I didn’t argue with the doctor who explained the diagnosis to me.
I was placed on drugs. The doctor also advised me to avoid these foods completely – at least till I got better. What would I do? I pineapple and orange are my favorite fruits. I like taking carbonated drinks – especially Coca-Cola. And tea made with lipton? Hmmmm! That’s definitely irresistible to me. I just didn’t know what to do. Well, I promised myself finishing the drugs – something I had never done in my life, as far as I could recall. I also told myself that I would try to avoid those foods. But as soon as I got better, I threw away the remaining drugs. And about a month later, I went back to the same kinds of foods – with full force!
In June, 2016 while in Jos, I had similar experience – but at a worse level. This time, I didn’t take myself to hospital. My friends did – and I wasn’t in my consciousness when they did that. That was around 10:00pm. Later – around 2:00am – while driving back home, my friends told me what the nurses said when they saw me. This is what the nurses said to my friends: “Thank God you brought him now. If he had stayed at home throughout the night, you probably would have found his dead body in the morning.” Well, the instructions about food were repeated. And again, I promised myself to avoid them.
But just thirteen months later (that was July 2017), I went back to pineapple and oranges. The trouble started again! But this time, it was mild – though it made me cancel my appointments for the next four days. And since then, I became resolute. I became deliberate about what I would eat, and about taking time to rest. And to be honest, I stuck to that until two months ago when I started taking tea with lipton, and also went back to carbonated drinks – Coke, Teem, Pepsi.
As I went through that pain yesterday, my thoughts were filled with
regrets. Well, like I said, I could not do anything except to pray for God’s healing. Shortly after my silent and brief prayer, God gave
me sleep. By the time I woke up from the sleep, it was few minutes
to 4:00pm. And I suddenly noticed a change in my body. I was completely sound, strong and healthy. The only logical explanation
was this: God has miraculously healed me. I can tell you that I went through the valley of the shadow of death yesterday, but God snatched me out of it. This was the third time God delivered me from the same kind of pain – the pain of gastritis and enteritis.
But never forget why I am sharing this with you now: To point out
that in this life, we can’t avoid pain. It is either the pain of
discipline, or the pain of regret. The pain of discipline comes
through obedience – to God’s Word, to doctor’s instructions and
advice, to parents’ advice and admonition, to pastors’ preaching,
teaching, admonition, exhortation, etc. On the other hand, the pain
of regret comes through disobedience, negligence and violation of
laws, rules and regulations.
I must confess that as humans, we find it terribly difficult to abide by some rules – even the simplest ones. But you see, in Season Seven of the 24 Hour movie, one of the major characters, Larry Moss says: “The rules make us better.” While that may not always be the case, I assure us that rules are meant to make us better. And each time we violate them, we certainly should expect consequences. Because every action has consequences. It’s true that God promises us divine health. But that does not exonerate us from obeying the dietary laws God Himself gave us in the Bible. God is a God of principles and order. I can’t go about taking poison and still expect divine health to be at work in my life.
And while we know that there are some substances that are
generally poisonous to the human body, let’s not forget the words
of Adaz in his song titled ‘Sarokome’: “One man’s food is another
man’s poison.” Yes, what may be poisonous to my body system,
could be just the right food for another man’s body. To apply this
in my life, I would say that acidic fruits like pineapple and orange
could be poisonous to my body now, but they are good for some
While writing this, I find it difficult to apply this lesson in a wider sense. I know that this is December. As far as we are concerned in Nigeria, it is in the ‘ember’ months (September to December) that
blood sucking demons, witches and wizards are at work in Nigeria.
And to be honest with you, I don’t deny the existence and activities
of these satanic cohorts. However, I don’t believe it is every death,
every accident, every sickness that demons, witches and wizards bring upon us. Sometimes, we are the ones bringing these things upon ourselves. As a driver, when you embark on a long distant journey without checking your car first, do you blame witches when your car tire bursts and you have an accident? When you drive recklessly on Nigerian roads that are bad, would you blame any demon if you have an accident? When, in attempt to fix the electric problem in your community, you decide to be “NEPA 2” and get yourself electrocuted, do people blame the witches in your village? I repeat: I know that it is never easy to discipline ourselves. But the pain of discipline is far less severe than the pain of regret. Again, it is beneficial to go through the pain of discipline.
I am very grateful that God healed from the sickness me yesterday. I am more grateful to God for the fact that He delivered me from the consequences of my indiscipline. But you see, yesterday’s experience reemphasized a major weakness in my life: lack of personal discipline. King Solomon declared that a man without personal discipline (self-control) is akin to an ancient city whose walls are broken (See Proverbs 25:28). This analogical description is profound and incisive. Discipline is certainly our moral wall. But much more than that, it is a kind of spiritual wall that surround our life. Second, yesterday’s experience reechoed in me a fundamental biblical truth spoken by Jesus: It is the knowledge of the truth that sets a man free (See John 8:32). Beyond just being delivered from the consequences of my indiscipline, I need freedom. And that freedom will come only when I begin to act in accordance to the knowledge of the truth I have concerning my health.
You know dear readers, I didn’t set out to put down something lengthy this morning. All I wanted to do this morning was to post a testimony of how God saved me from a near-death experience yesterday. But as I began writing, I felt the need to share beyond just the experience. I believe God works miracles in diverse ways. This writing might be the miracle you need this season. Today is 21 December – four days to Christmas Day. This is a festive period. And it is natural that our weaknesses and vulnerabilities as humans become more exposed in our moments of pleasure and celebrations. That’s one major reason why, despite pastors’ preaching, people keep misbehaving during Christmas celebration. This piece of writing coming to you at a moment like this could just God’s miraculous way of saving you from the possible
consequences of some indiscipline and misdemeanor.
And I tell you that I have more to write this morning. But as it is
now, I am even late for my morning soccer training. (Oh yes, I am
strong enough to play soccer this morning; praise be to God!) Plus,
I know that I’ve written a lot already. So I am going to stop here. I
pray that God give you grace to read through this all. I also pray that by God’s unfailing mercies, we all receive grace to always choose the pain of discipline over the pain of regret.