How a UTI Showed Me What Truth Looks Like to an Unbeliever

A diagnosis and a prescription for a clean bill of health changed everything

The night we had plumbing problems, I had personal plumbing problems. My first urinary tract infection. Except I didn’t know it was a UTI.

The only thing worse than a UTI is an undiagnosed UTI with a toilet you can’t use. Then it’s fear, discomfort, and inconvenience. Everything you’ve ever wanted on a Friday night. But as God so often does, He uses my experiences — even uncomfortable ones — to show me spiritual truths. The experience with the UTI (and the house’s plumbing issues) was no exception.

The incapacitated toilet was between the kitchen and the laundry room. We have another tucked inside the master suite at the southwest end and another off the den in the northeast. It’s not as if I had to pee* off the deck into the backyard bushes. But that night, being in the kitchen with an urgent need to pee was like being in Missouri with toilets in California and Maine.

Plus I was afraid. What was wrong with me?

[*I don’t mean to offend. You may insert “urinate” or “tinkle” instead of “pee” throughout, but one syllable was all I could manage in my rush to the restroom.]

The bloody truth

I awakened in the night at about 11:30 to use the bathroom. I returned to bed and immediately got up because I felt I had to go again. And again. And again. I realized I no longer needed to empty my bladder, but the sensation, the urgency remained.

I got out of bed, got onto the computer, and did some online searches: “urgent need to pee even when you don’t need to” and other sophisticated terms. I finally used the symptom checker on WebMD and came up with moderate matches to a number of possibilities — UTI? Kidney stone? Bladder infection? A permanent sensation of urinary urgency? (No, that last one was my fear talking.)

When I next used the toilet, I was wide awake and so turned on the light and peed. The used toilet paper showed bright red, and the water in the toilet was bloody. It didn’t hurt to urinate until the end. I maintained that “urination urgency” even when my bladder was empty, and then when I decided to get to toilets in California or Maine, I nearly wet my pants.

I added “blood in urine” as a symptom in WebMD, which narrowed the results, but somehow I remained unclear as to what was wrong. Before I tried sleeping again, I located the urgent care center online and scheduled an appointment at 9:15 in the morning. It was 1 a.m. — just 8 hours to wait!

The road back to health

When you feel you have to pee — constantly — and then nearly wet your pants when you decide you DO have to pee, the thought of driving across town for a doctor’s appointment is rather frightening. Since I’m beyond the need for sanitary napkins and not yet in need of Depends, I was at a loss as to what to do.

But my need outweighed the risk, and I drove to the urgent care center. I immediately peed in a cup, then saw the nurse, who nodded knowingly when I related my experience and symptoms.

“Been there, girlfriend,” she said.

(Where was I? What was this? I thought. But since she was living and smiling, I feared less.)

The doctor came in next, and I related the same message. Again, nods, understanding, sympathy — but no declaration of what this was. I was comforted but in the dark until I blurted:

“Is this a UTI or something else?”

Of course, it was. I had classic symptoms, actually, and when I returned to my computer later that day — on Azo pain relief and antibiotics and feeling much better — I saw the window to WebMD open to symptoms of UTI.

My symptoms. I saw this clearly as I read them again. I always thought a UTI made your urine burn and your body burn with fever, but I was wrong. Had I comprehended what WebMD described as symptoms — and I can only guess that my fear and distress in the midnight hours made me miss this — that knowledge might have calmed my fear.

As I reflected on the experience — especially the way my eyes were opened after my “salvation” from the UTI — I thought how spiritual truths that seem so clear to me as a believer are as obscure to a non-believer as the description of UTI symptoms were to me.

I read the “Bible” of medical symptoms, WebMD, and still missed the connection between the description of UTI symptoms and what I was experiencing. In the urgent care center, the nurse and the doctor — both women — nodded knowingly and assumed I knew what I had and so didn’t name it.

I had had to ask. They assumed I knew and, therefore, didn’t name my condition or explain their knowing nods or “right there with you” comments. Only after I asked did they tell me it was a UTI.

The spiritual parallel

Once I was diagnosed and armed with personal understanding, a revisit to the WebMD site showed me that the truth had been before me all along. I just hadn’t seen it!

Oh, fellow Christians, this experience gave me a glimpse of what unbelievers see and understand when we present the Gospel or talk about a spiritual life based on the grace of God. They may hear or see the words, but like me on WebMD or in the doctor’s office, they don’t truly comprehend the value of Jesus’ death on the cross or the seriousness of our sin.

As communicators, we often mention “the curse of knowledge.” It occurs when we are so familiar with our subject that we fail to include the basic information that our audience needs to understand. We need to present the gospel clearly. We must assume that our audience doesn’t have the benefit of knowledge.

But while that “the curse of knowledge” may play some role in the ability of unbelievers to recognize their need for Jesus, Scripture indicates, rather, that they are blind to the truth. They just can’t see it.

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 

2 Corinthians 4:4, NIV

In fact, while the message of the cross is to believers the very power of God, to those who are perishing, it is pure foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18). Just as it was to us until God gave us eyes to see.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:6, NIV

My experience with a UTI, which I hope I never repeat, showed me how important it is to present the Gospel, the Good News, clearly. To name the condition of unbelief and sin and the consequence of remaining in that state. Most importantly, to pray for God to open the eyes of those we want to reach.

And to recognize God’s grace in giving us eyes to see and understand His glory as displayed in our Savior Jesus Christ. Good news, dear friends!

I felt much better a couple of hours after my doctor’s appointment — so well, in fact, that I was able to help my husband with the plumbing. Using a pressure washer, a hose and a special nozzle he’s purchased for this purpose, Steve snaked a high-powered stream of water through the pipes under the house.

The strategic force of the water broke the clog free, and the pipes, like my personal plumbing, work as intended. Like a quick fix for our plumbing, a quick fix for my UTI, God provides a quick — and eternal — fix for our sin problem: His Son, sacrificed for us.

[If you are reading this post and haven’t yet turned to Jesus as your Lord and Savior and want to know how to do so, please email me at [email protected] and put “Show me Jesus” in the subject line. If you’d like to know my testimony, I share it in this blog post.]

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