God disciplines witha cough

By Julia Fernandes

July 26, 2011


Hebrews 12:6 –  "TheLord disciplines those he loves."


This incident occurred in the month of February this year.It was the usual morning rush. I was sitting in the train, eyes drowsy, hopingto catch a few winks. Amidst all the noise and din of the train and passenger’stalks, a woman began coughing incessantly almost non-stop. I woke up with thenoise of the cough and I looked up at the woman who was coughing. Apparently,she was having a bad attack of cough and she just could not stop coughing.


For a fleeting second, I cast a disdain look at the woman andfound myself irked with her continuous cough. I arrogantly thought to myself,“Why is this woman coughing so much? Can she not stop it?” Somehow, I could notsee her pain. All I could see was a woman coughing that was disturbing my nap.

After around one or two weeks I caught a nasty bout of cold.At this point let me state that whenever I catch a cold, it is the usual bodyache and sniffles. But I never ever get a cough. Never. So, this time when Ifelt sick, I got laid down with a mysterious cough. My doctor could notdiagnose the cough, since I never had a history of cough. It would startusually in the evenings with me coughing continuously.


One evening the cough was so bad that it started at around 7in the evening and abated only at around one in the morning! All my reportswere clear. The doctor reckoned that it was some allergy cough, though it washard to determine the cause of the allergy. It was highly embarrassing when thecough attack would start in a public place, especially in a train, drawing theattention of all my co-passengers towards me.


Each time I had a cough attack I remembered that woman whowas coughing whom I had scorned. Then I realized God read my thought and didnot like my indifference to the pain of that woman. Nothing escapes God, noteven a passing thought. The cough was His way of disciplining me. I learnt mylesson -- the cough way.


I don’t remember the number of times I said sorry to God. Heloved me so much that He did not like me committing even the smallest of smallsin. I did not hurt that woman nor was I rude to her in any way. But, I sinnedagainst her in thought. Even though it was for a minute, in the eyes of God, itmattered a lot. By stretching the duration of my mysterious cough to two months, God not only sensitized me to the pain of that woman but also to the pain ofeverybody I encounter coughing.


Today, when I see anybody coughing in the train, with fear,I recollect what I went through. I immediately close my eyes and whisper aprayer for that person. The experience of my cough attack enables me to lookwith compassion at people.


Had God allowed the cough to persist for a week or so thelesson would not have been so deeply entrenched in my heart and mind. Throughtwo months of cough, God made sure that I will never ever repeat my act of indifference and that I will always have the highest sensitivity to thesuffering of people around me.


God has zero tolerance for sin as I learnt. He is all holyand sin even in the mildest form cannot stand in front of God. God loves us somuch that He does not hesitate to discipline us so that we can be as Holy as Heis.


For two months I had to suffer. With each subsequentattack of cold the intensity of the cough infection subsided until I was completelycured. Just two weeks back I was down with viral fever. With dread I thought tomyself, will the cough come back again. No, it didn’t. 

That mysterious coughwill always serve as a reminder as to how God hates even the mildest trace of sinand how He does not hesitate to discipline all those whom He loves dearly.