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FIRST-PERSON: From the COVID battlefield

[2]RICHMOND, Va. (BP) – On Monday, Jan. 11, I tested positive for COVID. Things turned a little south on Wednesday when I had some serious back pain, but still I thought it’d be a week and done. By Friday, I was miserable. It took until the evening for me to realize that the pain seemed much like a pain I’d had before – a pulmonary embolism.

My wife took me to the hospital. She dropped me off and went home. Nobody but the patient gets through the door. I presented with six pulmonary embolisms (three in each lung), COVID pneumonia, hemoglobin dropping like a rock, kidney and liver numbers not looking great, blood sugar going crazy, fever of 102 and pulse oxygen levels dropping into the 80s (not good). I immediately came face to face with three COVID truths.

First, the healthcare system is overwhelmed. There is no capacity for heroics, extra measures or patience. It was, in the moment, remarkable that I was alive, let alone conscious. No doubt, there was no reason to believe that investing time, energy and resources in me was worth it.

Truth two – When no investment is worth it, catheterize them, put them on a morphine drip and oxygen and move them to the “Waiting to Die” zip code. Not sure I could have disagreed with that assessment of my chances. I was a bad investment. Waiting to Die was probably the right triage decision. But believe me when I say this: There is not a hint of condemnation, no judgment or anything but the utmost appreciation and respect for these providers.

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COVID truth three – this thing is of the foulest breath of hell, and the healthcare workers doing battle at great physical, emotional and spiritual risk are nothing short of some of the greatest heroes in history. I implore you all to love, cherish and encourage them. They are the best of us.

Mental confusion from COVID itself, low oxygen, a fever of 102, morphine and pain combine to make it impossible to advocate for yourself. If you have never had a pulmonary embolism, it is like getting shot in the chest. Every breath excruciating. Imagine six gunshots. Pneumonia is no picnic either. For much of the time I was in the hospital, I had no idea where I was or what was going on.

Anyone who knows me knows three things about me. I am madly in love with Jesus and His people. I am heartbroken for anyone who does not know Jesus. And I am not afraid of anything! Not my personal safety, my life or even my reputation – I truly couldn’t care less about what anyone thinks of me beyond Jesus. I can name every time I have ever been afraid in my whole life, always for those I love and the ache for their pain or danger.

But I experienced a new fear as God led me through the COVID battle – running out of time. I understood my fear was not about dying at all, but rather feeling I still had work to do – people to tell, churches to start, folks to love in His name. God save me! God redeem this! God, I surrender!

The next days were just about the battle. Fever, confusion, sleep, SWEAT and a growing appreciation for the COVID truths. But in moments when I was more aware, the deepest COVID truth became clear. This pandemic may be playing out in the physical realm of disease and death, but COVID is a spiritual battle. This is of Satan.

In those moments, not only did I come to realize this, but I also realized that everyone on either side of it knew it. The doctors, the nurses, the technicians, everyone on the floor. They all knew. All of us in the hospital beds. We all knew. In the purity of the COVID battlefield, everything is crystal clear. Everyone on this battlefield, regardless of belief, religion or worldview, knows that this is a spiritual battle.

In slowly returning to the world (which has not been as easy or even desirable as you would think), I find that returning to the chaos of man’s thinking that he has any real answers beyond God makes me sad. I find myself spending much of my time praying for revival, or for Jesus to just come back and get this over with. Unfortunately, then I am moved to tears for those who would be lost if He did. So, it leaves me at revival. God has graciously given me more time. It will be spent on one thing: Revival.

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I would ask all of you reading this to join me in pursuit of revival. What can you do?

In the end, know that I did not, and do not, enjoy COVID. I am still deep in the battle. Six pulmonary embolisms and COVID pneumonia will take a while to overcome physically. But I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey. The refining of perspective and commitment to His purposes and the revival to come. To get a chance to walk faithfully through the battlefield and drag a survivor along – absolutely humbling that God would allow that. To be in the presence and have a chance to encourage even a few of the very best of us caring for the broken and dying – way beyond humbling. Through it, I have been reminded that we are only really living when we are completely surrendered and solely dependent on God. Lord, send Revival now!


E. Karl Enters is a toxicologist, pastor and church planter. He is currently part of a planting team pursuing the start of The Porch RVA in Richmond, Va. Read the full story of Karl’s time on the COVID battlefield at https://www.everythingchanges.net/post/from-the-covid-battlefield [5].