10. Digesting Discipline

“It is one thing to go through a crisis grandly,
 but another thing to go through every day
 glorifying God
 when there is no witness,
 no limelight,
 no one is paying the remotest attention
 to us.”
— Oswald Chambers


“Hospitals across the country are beginning to restrict use of their most potent antibiotics and isolate their sickest patients to try to stop the evolution of ‘superbugs’ — germs that resist all known drugs.”

I noticed the article’s lead paragraph then stopped for a moment to reflect on my own medical history. In 1986, three consecutively prescribed treatments of a powerful antibiotic had crippled my immune system and yeast infection had assaulted my tongue, throat, and vocal chords. For several months, I was unable to talk above a whisper.

At first, Chuck and our two children joked about Mom losing her voice. They thought it was kind of nice that I wasn’t able to holler at them. But it didn’t take long for the three to tire of having to come and find me to chat or ask a question, rather than conveniently shouting to me from another room in the house. They were also annoyed that they had to relay phone messages, since I couldn’t speak loud enough for callers to understand what I was saying. So I wasn’t the only one who felt relief when a specialist was found in whom I could place a small measure of hope.

I remember thinking that Dr. Sherman wasn’t what I’d expected when he walked into the exam room. He wore very funny-looking head gear that seemed attached to him like an additional appendage. But when he explained the reason behind my condition, I did not see it as funny. And then he said this: “I want you to begin a special diet. No sugar, yeast, or molds — that includes cheese and mushrooms. Because yeast feeds on sugar and molds, you’ll have to remove the food sources so it will stop multiplying.”

No sugar. No sugar. I wasn’t sure I had heard him correctly. “No sugar,” I repeated, hoping maybe my ears had been affected along with my throat. Dr. Sherman nodded and I asked, “For how long?”

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “There hasn’t been much research done on yeast growth, so I can’t give you a definite time range. You may have to stay on it for the rest of your life. I can’t promise you any miracles.”

As I climbed into my car to drive home, I spotted the Coke I’d been drinking before the fateful examination. No sugar, I lamented. At that moment the treatment seemed far worse than the ailment, and as I began shopping for products without sugar or yeast or mold, I realized I was headed for another hazardous curve in the road that I’d been traveling.

“Jesus,” I prayed, “you promised rest for the weary. What’s up with this?”

I heard HIs voice in my spirit: Stay yoked to me, and I will give you everything you need to deal with this detour!

As I warmed dinner leftovers for lunch instead of throwing together a sandwich or grabbing a burger — there’s yeast AND sugar in bread and mold in the cheese — I reminded myself that God is faithful.

Since thoughtlessly licking an ice cream spoon could literally cause my voice to disappear within seconds, and when cinnamon rolls and cookies continued to call my name in the middle of the night, I came to the palpitating realization that I was a “sugar-holic.”

Over the next few weeks, I began to substitute fructose-based jams and honey for refined sugar and syrup on pancakes. And I began to actually enjoy flour tortillas as bread, and butter in place of mayonnaise. Diet drinks kept me from feeling completely dispirited. (Though I’ve learned since that sugar substitutes can be dangerously harmful, and fructose IS a type of sugar.)

Funny thing. Those disciplines eventually paid off! My health improved, my mood successfully adjusted to the inevitable, and after several years of targeted effort, I weaned myself away from the diet that had so rudely changed my eating habits at a moment when I least expected it. Gradually, I resumed eating (and appreciating) my favorite foods. Over the years, I’ve managed to maintain reasonably healthy eating habits. And that, of course, makes a positive difference when battling medical issues.

God’s discipline can seem harsh and unreasonable. His answers to my “why’s” and “what if’s” aren’t always what I wish to hear, and miracles are dispensed sparingly. But I’m thankful that in spite of my whining and complaining, He consistently acts with my best interest at heart!


“Blessed is the man [or woman] whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
For He wounds, but He also binds up;
He injures, but His hands also heal.”

(Job 5:17-18)



When was the last time you felt sorry for yourself? A year ago? Last month? Right now? Make time to sip your favorite beverage and read Job, chapters 37-42. Then, instead of moaning about your situation, pray for brothers and sisters in Christ who long for the freedom to enjoy a cup of tea and read God’s Word.