Used to be I’d have strep all the time through my teen years . . . my body tends to like it, I guess. Once I had my tonsils yanked, I was relatively strep free until my late thirties when it started happening again. Turns out, my adenoids grew back, so I had those yanked. I’ve been mostly strep free except for a horrible incident in Switzerland where I landed in the ER. And now I have it. Fire lives in my throat. Swallowing is difficult. Fevers, persistent.
I’ve been prone all my life toward drama when I’ve been sick. I wish this weren’t the case, and I’m embarrassed to write it all stark here for you to read. (I elaborated on it in my book Thin Places if you want to know the whys.) As a growing follower of Christ, I don’t want to be prone to drama. I want to suffer well.
Today as I write this, I’m reminded of the surprising blessing of sickness. Here are some reasons sickness can be a blessing:
- It slows you down. I have had a breakneck life these past few weeks. Sickness gives me permission to be in my pajamas, propped up in bed. It gives permission to nap.
- It helps you realize how amazing your family is. My sweet, sweet children have loved me well. My hubby brought home wonton soup for me.
- It makes you determined to be thankful for health when it returns. (And similarly, it reminds you to take better care of yourself.)
- It reminds you to pray for your friends battling health issues. I have two friends battling cancer right now. I’m praying more fervently for them.
- And it may also prompts you to pray for friends who suffer in other ways: relational, financial. I’ve been particularly burdened for friends with marriage issues.
- You are more attuned to God’s voice, as your weakness makes you need Him more. I’m praying more, asking for more help. (Granted, many of those prayers are simply the name Jesus when I wake up in the night and can’t breathe or swallow.)
- You realize again that you are not God, and that He is capable of running the universe without you.
- Health issues remind you of eternity–what happens after you die. Randy Alcorn said, “God made you for a person and a place. That person is Jesus. That place is heaven.” Learning to live in light of eternity will utterly change your life forever.
- Being sick boils life down to its essential elements: family, friends, community, relationships. Money and stress and possessions pale in comparison to these.
- In your weakened state, you learn to lean on others. You, the strong one who loves for others to lean on you, learn humility by letting others love you. It’s a blow to pride, but essential if you want to grow in Jesus.
So if you’re sick today, learn to see some of the blessings. (We’re all aware of the negatives.) And if you have a friend suffering today, please pass this on. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to take medicine, try not to swallow, and run back to bed.
What has sickness taught you? Pain? What are the surprising blessings of either?