Last week I was sick. I’m still battling a killer cough and a bit of a stuffy nose which is annoying more than anything. Being sick is a universal human experience. How we react to it is very different depending on what kind of person you are.
I found a funny video this week that explains the different types of people when they get sick. It lists 7 types of people:
- The one in denial
- The one trying to prevent the inevitable
- The one who thinks they’re dying
- The one who tries to power through it
- The vitamin C fanatic
- The faker
- The one who’s always sick
Which one are you?
I personally tend to progress through Vitamin C -> training to prevent the inevitable -> the one who thinks they’re dying. No matter what type of sick person you are though I have come to believe that God wants us to learn something through sickness.
The Bible talks about how God works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). If that is true, then God can use even common sickness for our ultimate good. But what does God want to teach us through being sick?
I asked a student this the other day and she had some interesting thoughts.
She said that being sick teaches you:
- Patience in the healing process
- The need to look after yourself and
- That you shouldn’t fake being sick because you wouldn’t want to wish that on anyone
I think those are great answers but I think we can get more out of being sick if we turn to what God says in the Bible.
Here are some things I’ve been reflecting on during and after being sick a couple of times this term.
1. Being sick reminds you that you are not God
In 2 Corinthians 12:7 Paul who wrote a third of the New Testament says,
to keep me from becoming conceited…a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
This thorn in the flesh is a way of saying his body (flesh) was in pain. He was sick. And rather than cursing God for making him sick, Paul’s reflection is that God allowed him to get sick so that he didn’t get a big head (become conceited).
Being sick is a great way to knock you off your own pedestal. It reminds us that we don’t have control over all things, that all things do not depend on us. When we are sick and are forced to take a break we realise that and that can be a really good thing. It takes the pressure off of us having to perform all the time. It also builds humility and as the student I asked said earlier, patience in us.
2. Being sick helps you appreciate how good good health is
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says,
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Here the bible calls all of us to rejoice, pray and be thankful all of the time. That includes when we’re sick. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find it hard to rejoice and be thankful when you feel like you’re on death’s door. But even then this verse encourages us to be thankful. If not for the current situation we can be thankful for all of the times that we have enjoyed good health in the past. Like the old saying goes “you don’t know what you got until it’s gone.” Thinking this way can help us not take all the good things God gives us regularly for granted. It can break down the selfish, entitled attitude that threatens to make its home in our comfortable western lifestyles. Being sick can snap us out of that mentality and make us reevaluate our priorities and review how good our life really is when we’re healthy.
3. Being sick reminds you that the world is broken
Ever since the first sin, the world has been on a downward spiral into brokenness, decay and death. Romans 8:20-22 says,
For the creation was subjected to futility… in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
We all understand on a deep level that all is not how it should be. There is something wrong, something broken in this world and we long to be free of that. These verses say not only do we feel that but the whole world feels that too. Being sick reminds us not to put all of our hope in this current reality. It is broken and will ultimately end one day. But then comes the good news that one day the world will not only end, but it will also be free from corruption, futility, and bondage and will be free. And that leads to my last point which is that,
4. Being sick helps you build hope
2 Corinthians 4:17 says,
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
The idea here is that whatever suffering we experience here and now is not even a speck on the radar compared to the amazing, astonishing, awe-inspiring future that God has prepared for us. Being sick helps us look forward to being well, which exercises the hope muscle and points us to the ultimate hope of a day when sickness itself will be no more. That’s what God promises us.
Just listen to Revelation 21:1-4
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Let’s remind ourselves this flu season that being sick is not all bad. God can and does work all things together for the good of those who love him and have been called according to His purpose. We need to trust him and look forward to when He’s the one who ultimately takes away all sickness, crying and pain in the new heavens and new earth.
Isaiah Logan, College Pastor