Last week I spent some time reflecting on three lessons I learned (and, I hope, will continue to learn) from my recent illness. Today I thought it would be good to bring to your attention three further lessons – this set pondered in light of my recovery from that illness. The first set of lessons may have been a little more plain to see – since sickness slows us down and allows us (sometimes forces us!) to think. This second set may be a little less obvious. Because, once we are well again, we tend to rush back into the frenzy, and to pay less attention to what God may be saying to us in it all (which is perhaps a lesson in itself). But I have a little time to think as I sit down before this little weekly column … and so let me see if I can draw some insights from the fact that I am now well again, after a difficult illness.
1. Thankfulness is easily overlooked. On the Saturday and Sunday, I was terribly miserable … and wasn’t sure when I would see any light at the end of the tunnel. On Monday, I was not yet well … but woke up feeling considerably better than I had before. And so I got up and moved around a bit; did a few things; etc. But at the end of the day, one of the things I realized I hadn’t done was to stop and give thanks to God. I had prayed during my sickness. And others had prayed for me. And I believe (in my head at least) that it is the Lord “who heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103.3). But as He began to do so, I just took it all for granted – as though the sole reason for my recovery were the fact that the virus was finally running its course. Now, certainly the virus was running its course. But surely it was the Lord who was superintending that, and making it not as bad or lingering as it could have been. And I ought to have been not only relieved about the virus, but intentionally thankful to the Lord of the virus!
2. Work is good. I cannot honestly say that I was eager to get back to work last Tuesday, after four days away from the responsibility. I like time off as much as you do! But I can say that I’d rather be at work than laid up with the flu! And I can also say that productivity is better than inactivity. It is good for us to work; to be useful; to produce something! In our constant craving for the weekend, perhaps we forget that sometimes. But a few days of productivity after a handful on a sickbed is a good reminder that work is a good thing; that God did indeed create us for usefulness. “Six days you shall labor.” And, even if we do not absolutely love our jobs, the privilege of going to them each day is better than the alternative!
3. Sickness is temporary. I’m not the best sickbed patient, I know. As I said last time, it often seems to me like the worst sickness ever! And I find myself feeling like I will never actually recover. Now, even as I am think such a thought, I know that it’s not actually true. But it just almost feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it? ‘How am I ever possibly going to feel right again?’ But every time, I eventually do. The Lord “who heals all your diseases” keeps granting me to recover … every time. And I should remember that. Our “affliction,” Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4.17, is only “momentary” and “light.” And even when we are afflicted with something that will not actually go away in this life – if we are in Christ, it is still only “momentary” in comparison to the eternity that we will spend with Jesus. Just as the flu doesn’t last forever – neither does cancer, or arthritis, or heart disease, or dementia, or heartache, or any other affliction. We will get better soon. And we will thank God profusely when we do. And we will have an eternity to serve Him with healthy bodies and eager hearts.