It was the strangest experience. Last week I tested positive for covid. After taking a ten day trip to New England, visiting old friends and making new ones, upon arriving to our various homes several of us began feeling unwell. Within the week, both vaccinated and unvaccinated proved infected with the covid virus. Many of my symptoms felt like a mix of both the flu and a cold – stuffy nose, headache, achy, and extreme fatigue. A cough developed but hasn’t evolved into anything too concerning. I haven’t slept this much in a very long time :–).

The most awkward symptom, however, has been the loss of taste and smell. It is just weird. On Wednesday morning Gary made me a hot cup of coffee and with eagerness I took a sip. Much to my surprise, the temperature was hot, but I could not taste the amazing cinnamon flavor of the coffee. I drank only a dark liquid. I tried to smell my essential oils – nothing. I ate spaghetti sauce and noodles – nothing. I burned a super strong candle from Bath and Body Works – nothing.

Senseless – Incapable of sensation. A lack of experiencing the senses.

Since losing the ability to smell and taste, I find myself pondering the five senses, especially reflecting on the senses of smell and taste found in Scripture. The burning of incense, the smell of sacrifice, and the oil of dedication each aroused the nose with a sense of holy and sacred work. When these aromas hit the nostrils in Bible times, an immediate connection occurred within the brain alerting the individual to God’s ways and movement. What would it have been like to not smell these strong scents intended to prompt the mind and heart?

Fruit, honey, and prepared foods tantalized the tongues of many within the Bible. The apostle John and Ezekiel tasted a sweet scroll as a message from God for His people (Ezekiel 3 and Revelation 10). The disciples likely smelled the roasting fish from the seashore as they encountered Jesus, their risen Lord (John 21). And, ultimately, all followers of Christ will gather together around a sweet, savory, and succulent meal that surpasses all meals with the marriage supper of the lamb (Revelation 19).

Likewise, bitter foods became an integral part of the passover meal as a reminder of the bitterness of Israel’s slavery (Exodus 12). And, bitter water described a life of sorrow and turmoil resulting from disobedience to God (Jeremiah 9:15). What if the bitter taste remained undetected, how was the spiritual message communicated?

Senseless – Incapable of sensation. A lack of experiencing the senses.

What happens when one ore more of the five senses lacks the ability to behave as intended? Have you ever had that happen to you?

Scientific studies reveal that often when people lose one sense they gain an increased sensation in one of the other senses. Blind people may hear better and the deaf may experience a heightened sense of sight. Research demonstrates that the brain actually remodels itself giving more space to other senses when one is missing. This sensory juggling displays the grandeur of God and His provision for mankind. Within me, this reality summons praise to our great and mighty God for the intricacies with which He created His creation. Praise the Lord with me!

So, I consider my other senses during covid. Have sight, hearing, or touch become more dominant as smell and taste receded to the background?

I notice that God’s movement within my soul seems intensified. Although God isn’t speaking in an audible voice to my inmost being, I am aware of His voice, His presence, and His peace within. I hear the whisper of God in the Scriptures He brings to mind, in the songs floating through my head, through the prayers ruminating inside my heart, and in the remembrance of His character. I hear God assure me and remind me of Truth. I hear the Spirit of the Living God resonate within my soul with His conviction, comfort, clarity, cleansing, and connection. The voice of God in the core of my being speaks louder, stronger, and clearer.

While my appetite for foods and smells diminished, my hunger to hear God’s voice within, to attend to His movements, and to rest in His grace increases. I want more of Him. I want to taste and see the goodness of the Lord within my soul. I imagine the smooth texture and sweetness of honey pouring over the depths of my soul with the generosity and grace of God.

What might we do when we notice our senses dulling or lacking stimulation?

We pay attention and remember. Jeremiah modeled this sensory juggling well. Like Jeremiah we can call to mind the Lord and His great love. When we remember His faithfulness, the senses within our soul and the hearing of our hearts increases and we know true Hope through the ups and down of life. God truly becomes our portion and refuge. Jeremiah’s words in Lamentations 3:19-26 point the way:

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Whenever you notice one or more of your senses incapable of sensation, look for the ways God might heighten your awareness of Himself through your other senses. Look for God’s trustworthy and compassionate ways. Rest in the saving work of Jesus Christ. Listen for the new and unfamiliar ways the Holy Spirit speaks into your soul. Notice the fragrant aroma of your prayers lifting to the Father. Invite the companionship of Jesus into your path knowing He too walked a path of suffering, surprise, and supernatural victory. Embrace God’s sensory movement within your soul.

I look forward to tasting cinnamon coffee again 🙂 as I pay attention and remember God’s faithfulness and steadfast love.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Proverbs 24:13-14 –  Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

Ephesians 5:2 – Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.

Margaret Feinberg. Taste and See: Discovering God among Butchers, Bakers, and Fresh Food Makers. Grand Rapids, MI. 2019.

Patricia King. Developing Your Five Spiritual Senses: SEE, HEAR, SMELL, TASTE & FEEL the invisible world around you. Maricopa, AZ. 2014.

Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.

Bethel Music with Hannah Waters. O Taste and See.

Selah. You Amaze Us.