One of the youngest pastors in the Nevada-Utah Conference (NUC), Melody Darrow, NUC women’s ministry director, thought herself healthy—she eats veggies, works out in the pool, and is a product of “hardy stock.” Never considering that COVID-19 would nearly kill her, Pastor Darrow naively believed that if you serve God and obey, you will be spared pain, sickness, and suffering. That is no longer her belief.
A recent victim of COVID-19, she now realizes that serving God does not prevent suffering. “I wore my mask and sanitized myself and my shoes,” Darrow declared. “I quarantined and refused to allow anyone to darken my door, and I still got the virus!” Serving God does not exempt us from trouble, trials, or disease; in fact, it sometimes makes us a target. Describing her battle, Darrow said, “I sat in my chair as fever raged through my body like an inferno for 12 days. The body aches that followed were extremely painful and intense. I could do nothing but curl up in a ball and rock and cry, praying to God for strength to survive.” Christian music and praising God helped to distract her from the pain.
“The constant hum of the oxygen machine threatened my sanity. The oxygen caused nose bleeds, and the steroids kept me from enjoying restful sleep,” she continued. “I lost 12 pounds in two weeks. Weakness followed, and I gasped for air just crossing the room.”
Friends, family, prayer groups, and members all over NUC lifted her to heaven in prayer. People brought food and medication. Counting her blessings, she recognized that she had health insurance, oxygen, inhalers, and a nebulizer. A great blessing was her nephew Lambo Darrow, who became nurse to her, making smoothies and finding ways to comfort her.
In spite of all this, the virus almost killed her. Her optimism fell with her dropping oxygen levels. She sat scared, gasping, dizzy, and disoriented, stubbornly refusing to call the doctor, fearing a hospital admittance would be a death sentence.
Fortunately, Lambo stepped in and compelled her to call the doctor. New medication brought about a rise in oxygen levels within hours. Hope rushed back into her soul, and she realized she would live to fight another day.
As a result of this trial, there was self-realization of the stubbornness and arrogance in thinking she would be spared from the virus because she serves the Lord. A promise of an easy life does not accompany dedicated service to God. On the contrary, those that were closest to Jesus experienced great difficulties, including painful deaths. 1 Peter 4:12 says “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you” (NIV). We know trials will come, so why do they surprise us?
“When sitting in my recliner, gasping for breath and burning up with fever, I thought, ‘Is this it? Will I ever have a chance to preach the gospel again?’” Darrow said. “I grieved that I may never get the opportunity to baptize again.”
Still weak, losing her hair, struggling through respiratory rehabilitation to save her lungs from permanent damage, Darrow realizes the war is not over, but the end is in sight. Spared to live and preach again, she is eternally grateful for the blessing of ministry—helping others to know God and helping facilitate the change that only God can bring.