THE POWER OF REPENTANCE
MY BATTLE WITH COVID 19
By Steve Henry
My battle with Covid 19, led to a more intense battle with myself that taught me the power of repentance to unleash the favor of God on my life.
2nd Timothy 1:6 tells us to stir up the gift of God that is in us. Many times we see the word “gift” and we think it is “something” we get, however in light of the next verse I think it is a “someone” that He wants us to stir up.
He says He “has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” all attributes of the Holy Spirit. In other words, He wants us to stir up Himself within us, and what stirs Him more than when we come to repentance, turn to Him, and allow Him to empower us to love ourselves and others by following the dictates of the mind of Christ that dwells within us. I would like to share a very intimate story with you that brought me to just such a place. Parts of the story are very disturbing and hard to recount but I hope that you will sense the incredible positive impact it has had on my life; you might just see yourself in parts of this story.
At the time of this writing, I am 68 years old and not on any medications of any kind. For some reason, God has blessed Becky and I with incredibly good health. Except for a few colds and the occasional flu, I have always felt good physically, however, when I do start feeling bad the only thing I want is to feel good again. Ask my wife and she will attest to the fact that I am not a good patient. Over the years I have commented, “If I ever get anything seriously wrong with me I will probably do myself in by over-medicating just so I can feel good again.” Little did I know that Satan was taking note of this comment and would try to use it against me in the future, but once again I would realize that God was the one who was truly in control and was actually engineering the circumstances of my life to deliver me from some “stinkin thinkin” that had the potential to destroy me after all Satan has come to steal, kill, and destroy.
I woke on the morning of December 3rd, 2020 feeling some achiness in my body, but I didn’t think much about it so I went on to work. The achiness grew for the next three days, so Becky and I went to be tested for Covid 19 on the 6th, and sure enough we both tested positive for the virus. I called my doctor and he told us all we could do at this point was treat the symptoms. Becky’s symptoms worsened with more severe body aches and fever and by the end of the week the virus was settling into my lungs and I felt the worst that I have ever felt in my life. As my lungs continued to deteriorate my doctor ordered oxygen for me but by this time my lungs were so inflamed it did little to help me breathe. I felt so miserable I remember asking God to please let me die.
As I mentioned earlier Satan was listening and he began to convince me of how worthless I was by hitting me with a barrage of failures that I had made over the years and now I was considering myself useless because I couldn’t fight off this thing that had taken over my body. I made the mistake of listening to him as he started implanting thoughts of suicide in my mind. As I listened to him I started to formulate a text in my mind that I was going to send to a friend of mine telling him they could find my body behind a storage building in my backyard. I was going to ask him to get law enforcement out there as quickly as possible so Becky would not be the one to find me. I planned to click the send button on my phone and pull the trigger, however, by this time I couldn’t get enough energy to go outside.
On the 14th the EMS came to transport me to the hospital and Becky shared with me later that when they left with me she didn’t think she would see me alive again. Little did she realize I had been hoping to die and because my first plan failed I was formulating another plan to bring an end to my suffering. Unfortunately for her, I called her from the ER and told her that I had just shared with the doctors that I was not to be put on a ventilator and I also wanted a Do Not Resuscitate order in place. I was hoping I would quickly deteriorate to the point that I would need the ventilator but without it, I would surely die. My precious wife told me later that the phone call scared her to death. I’m sorry I put you through that Becky.
I was admitted to the Covid ICU unit at Carolinas Healthcare System/ Blueridge here in Morganton and as my condition continued to worsen for the next couple of days I thought it wouldn’t be long before my plan came together and I would be out of my suffering, “but God” (is that not the most beautiful phrase in all of His precious Word) had another plan that I am convinced was initiated by the prayers of my brothers and sisters in Christ on my behalf.
December 17th was probably the lowest point ever in my life but God’s Word came to my mind and changed it to one of the greatest victories I have ever experienced. The phrase “I shall live and not die” started coming to my mind, actually, it comes from Psalm 118:17 “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” Even though it was reversed in my mind from how it is written in His Word, I believe He was reversing my thinking to get me in line with what He was doing. I had a choice to make at this point, would I continue to listen to my enemy and my flesh or would I turn from my plan and embrace His? Fortunately, I chose the latter and started declaring “I shall live and not die.” I even told the doctor that I just had a major turnaround in my thinking and I was ready to fight. I knew I had come to true repentance and trust in Him when I told the doctor to use a ventilator if necessary and to remove the DNR from my chart. I think he was elated and later found out that he called Becky and shared with her that he thought I had just turned a major corner in this fight.
The least sign of repentance on our part always unleashes God’s favor. Look at the story of the prodigal son, the son of a rich man wallowing with hogs and God only knows what else he wallowed with in the riotous lifestyle he had chosen. Then he came to himself, the son of a rich man, and simply said “I will arise” (he turned from the path of destruction he had embraced) “and go to my father,” (he turned to the one that could help him out of the mess he had made of himself). When he decides he is going to turn from his way and turn to his father we see one of the most beautiful pictures of the Grace of Almighty God in all of scripture. That father was so eagerly awaiting his son to return when he saw him a long way off, he ran to him, embraced him even with the stench of his failings emanating from him, and loved all over him. The only thing that mattered to this Daddy was his son was home with him. He celebrated because his child had been dwelling in the realm of death but when he came to repentance and came back to him, in essence, he chose life.
That was the same decision I came to as I lay in that hospital bed, and when I chose to trust God and His plan I knew I was going to live and not die, I even dubbed myself “The Covid Overcomer” because I wanted Satan to know that his plan was overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of my testimony (Revelation 12:11). Then is when I started seeing God’s Favor unleashed on my life as I started hearing what He was saying to me. Just as Satan bombarded me with his hellish thoughts of death and destruction my Precious Father started flooding my mind with thoughts of life and victory.
Thoughts such as:
“I will never leave you, or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5);
“I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life,” (Deuteronomy 30:19);
“You are the head and not the tail; you are above and not beneath” (Deuteronomy 28:13);
“I have not given you the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2nd Timothy 1:7);
I listened to the verse in “Amazing Grace” that says “through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come, it’s Grace that leads me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home.”
DON’T MISS THIS! Looking back on all this I see now that He had been flooding my mind with His thoughts all along, but I could not “receive” them until I quit listening to my flesh and Satan (repentance) and embraced His plan for me.
With a new determination to fight this battle, I remembered something that I have communicated for years, i.e. “We cannot be all God wants us to be without the help of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are one body and as we learn to function as such we can see amazing things take place, the impossible, becomes possible.” I determined that I would not fight alone and as I kept my network of support updated about my condition I saw the Body of Christ shine with a brilliance that dispelled any darkness that tried to overcome me, there were many such dark times, many things to overcome for the next several days (Satan doesn’t give up ground easily that he is trespassing on), but as I continued to keep “The Covid Overcomer Network” updated, they continued to pray, and all the encouragement I received, enabled me to keep my fighting spirit high and return to my family on Christmas Eve to enjoy the most special Christmas our family has ever experienced.
I cannot begin to tell you how important an encouraging word is when you are in a battle for your life but maybe God’s Word can put it into perspective for us. In Proverbs 25:11 He says “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” He uses two of the most valuable substances on earth to describe how vitally important a word spoken at the right time can be. At some of my lowest times, I would get a text from many of you with scripture, with an “I’m praying for you and pulling for you,” with a video of a song that kept me directed to the one that was fighting my battle for me and in turn keeping my fighting spirit high, even and especially, in the very face of the one that wanted to destroy me. Satan doesn’t have a chance when God unleashes His Favor on His children. I will be forever grateful to everyone who was a part of “The Covid Overcomer Network,” for I could not have done this without you.
One of the greatest expressions of His Favor was through the extreme professionalism of every one of the caregivers I had at the hospital and the many home health care providers I had after returning home. They worked tirelessly with me and the many other patients they were taking care of, but the thing that struck me about them more than anything else was the kindness that they showed me while I was in their care. I am convinced they had a strength about them that had to come from the very throne room of my Almighty God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Please keep any healthcare provider you know in your prayers and heap all the praise and encouragement on them that you can. I can’t imagine what they have been through this past year; they are truly special people, heroes in my book, thank God for His calling on their lives. I gratefully recognize them as part of “The Covid Overcomer Network” that God put together to bring me through this.
My recovery continues at home now, with Becky by my side and my Savior in my heart I am expecting a full recovery and healing from His Mighty Heart of Grace.
You may not be struggling with something as severe as Covid 19, many of you are faced with greater or lesser struggles, but be assured we all are struggling with something and if you’re not you will be. If we could just learn to be quick to turn from our way of dealing with struggle and turn to Him in our time of struggle we could live the blessed life He has in store for all of us.
said it best in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Many times when we find ourselves laboring over life’s issues we labor harder to try to figure out a way to deal with what we are laboring with in the first place, when Jesus tells us to simply come to Him and He will give us rest. He wants us to spend time with Him in His Word to learn of Him and discover that He always has our best interest at heart, i.e. finding rest for our weary souls.
As I mentioned earlier God was in control of what was going on in my life, not Satan. Luke 22:31-32 says “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold Satan has desired you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not. And when you are converted, strengthen your brothers.”
We see how Satan had a strong desire to have Peter so he could “sift” him. The word “sift” means “to riddle.” We would be foolish to think that Satan doesn’t have a similar plan for our lives. He riddled my mind with thoughts of destruction and death. My Savior offset his plan as He was praying for me, THINK ABOUT THIS, at a time in my life when I couldn’t bring myself to trust Him, my Savior was interceding for me to the Father that my faith would not fail. The prayers of the saints are precious and powerful but to think that Jesus is praying for us also is one of the most incredible thoughts I have ever had, What a Friend we have in Jesus. How can we lose when we belong to the greatest Overcomer Network ever put together with none other than the Lord of Glory leading the charge into battle for us?
We go through many conversions in our walk with the Lord, the most important of course is when we receive Him as our Savior. The conversion I experienced through this trial was a return to what our Savior teaches about life. We should always choose life no matter what. At the outset of this story, I shared with you “If I ever get anything seriously wrong with me I will probably do myself in by over-medicating just so I can feel good again.” That will no longer be a part of my inner thought processes, nor my speech unless I am sharing this story. Now it will be, “If I ever get anything seriously wrong with me I will choose life, and life more abundant.”
Let’s agree together that we will let our light shine so brilliantly into this lost and hurting world that they will see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven by deciding to turn from their way of salvation and turn to Him for his better plan (Matthew 5:16).
Your brother, and encourager in the Lord,
Steve Henry has been a lifelong resident of Burke County. God blessed him with an incredible lady that he has been married to for 43 years. He has also blessed Steve with two wonderful children and two beautiful granddaughters.
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