But I was really tired. Most of my medications are beta blockers of one sort or another, or poisons that affect my heartbeat. Sometimes I am lucky to have a pulse rate of 52 and blood pressure just scraping the bottom side of 100, the top number that is. The bottom one might be half that.
I had just bought groceries for the week, picked up a prescription and some dry cleaning, stood in line at the post office for twenty minutes and taught a Bible class, not to mention driving the hour and a half round trip back and forth to town. I was ready to sit out the rest of the day, after I got home and unloaded.
But my weary mind forgot that I was driving and told me to lean back and relax. I know my eyes weren’t closed longer than half a second, but when my brain caught up with what I was doing and I snapped to, my pulse was racing along just fine. Good thing I was only five miles from home.
And that’s when I forgot that these medications are a blessing, that without them I wouldn’t see at all, and wouldn’t have for several years now. That’s when I railed against a gift of God. It’s not enough that I have no energy. I must also put up with the discomfort of follicular conjunctivitis every minute of every day as a side effect, and nearly constant headaches from the blurry vision that accompanies it. How can this be a blessing?
Down days happen, usually when things pile up. Once again we needed something we couldn’t afford. Once again we had received bad news about a parent’s health. Once again something broke down. My vision had decreased another line at my last checkup. Keith’s RA had broken through the latest, the third, layer of medication and we weren’t sure it could be knocked down without another layer. And now I come dangerously close to an accident that could have hurt not just me but an innocent bystander.
So down I spiraled. When even blessings—like the medications that keep you seeing—become something you want to curse because all you can focus on are the side effects, you are too far down, and it’s time to find your way out.
Down days aren’t so much about a lack of faith as they are about a moment’s forgetfulness. They are about looking for the wrong things, or looking at the right things the wrong way. This wretched medicine makes me feel horrible, I sometimes think on a down day. On an up day I remember, this wonderful medicine has kept me seeing long enough to see my grandchildren.
I don’t for a minute compare myself to John, and I certainly have no idea what his feelings were, but if I had been in his shoes—or in his cell—I might have needed a reminder too. He had given up so much to fulfill his role in God’s plan as the forerunner of the Messiah. Yet now, when he has done all that was expected of him, he is cast into prison for speaking the truth. Surely God would save this righteous man, the one of whom the Messiah himself would say, “Of those born of women, none is greater than John,” Luke 7:28. But no, day after day he languishes in a prison cell at the mercy of a wicked woman and her weak husband.
I would have had a down day or two as I came to realize that my work was finished, that perhaps I, too, was finished, at the completely un-ripe young age of 31 or so. I don’t know if that is why or not, but he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one, or should we look for another?” (7:20)
The Lord sent him what he needed to hear.
"Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me." Luke 7:22-23.
John already knew those things; he had probably seen many of them. He just needed to be reminded, and there is no shame in that.
God can remind each one of us too. He does it by the providential words and actions of your brethren. He does it when a hymn suddenly wafts through your mind. He does it by giving us His Word, a resource of constant refreshment when we need it. How many of us don’t have verses we go to in difficult moments? If you don’t, then you need to make some time today to find one. Find it before you need it. Find it, and let the Lord remind you about all of your blessings, both now and to come.
You can come up from a down day, but only if you reach out and take hold of the help that is offered.
They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31.