Don’t Squander Your Sickness
by Harold Vaughan
I believe it was Alexander McLaren who said, “You will never learn anything new about God except through adversity.” The Psalmist said, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes” (119:71). You have the opportunity to glean much from this situation—so don’t squander your sickness.
The Issue is not “Why me?” but “What now?”
The question in illness is not “Why did I get sick?”, or “Why did God allow this?”, but “What can I learn?” Blaming God or questioning God, for allowing affliction is a fruitless exercise. He is the Potter and we are the clay. Open your heart to discover “What now?” As someone has said, “Every affliction comes with a message from the heart of God
A Reminder of the Brevity of Life
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). Death and sickness are the consequences of the curse caused by sin. Our times are in His hands and we must choose to wisely invest our allotment of time. Let the things that will matter when it is all said and done be the things that matter NOW.
Focus on the Important Things
Faith, family, and friends are the important things. Prune away those things that won’t matter at the end of the day. Give yourself and your time to the people that will weep when you are gone.
Lean on Others
Ecclesiastes 4:12 states, “A three-fold cord is not easily broken.” You need a close circle of friends you can confide in, confess to, and draw counsel from. If you fall—they can lift you up. If you are cold—they can warm you up. If you are struggling—they can hold you up. If you are sad—thy can cheer you up.
Be Still and Know
Perhaps you reacted in fear after getting the bad news. Maybe you are baffled and feel incredibly ignorant of physiology and medical options. Your head is dizzied as you talk to numerous doctors and do research in order to discover the best treatment. You may be so shaken that you cannot even pray.
After surgery my doctor listed the symptoms I was experiencing: inability to concentrate, trouble sleeping, fatigue, etc. He told me I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My doctor said, “You have never had a bullet this close to your head before.” He assured me this was very common and that emotional and physical side-effects come with the territory. If your reaction has not been perfect, you are not alone. Never forget the sun has a sinking spell every night, but it rises every morning!
So if you cannot focus spiritually, you can sit still in God’s presence and tell Him you are listening to all He wants to say to you. Print out appropriate Bible verses to read and meditate on.
Call the Elders
James 5:14-15 says the sick should call the elders (pastors) to pray “the prayer of faith” for divine healing. (Those praying for sick people should always pray “in faith.” Then if God chooses not to heal, at least it was not unbelief that missed the miracle.)
Allow Your Sickness to Aid in Your Sanctification
“He that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (1 Pet. 4:1). When you think death is eminent, sin is no longer on your “to do” list. The last thing on your mind is willful sin. Illness can turn your attention to the eternal and away from transgression. “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word” (Ps. 119:67).
Let Your Misery become Your Ministry
Jesus ministered to the thief on the cross as He was dying on the cross. Don’t neglect to minister to people who are suffering while you are suffering. How much better to bear someone else’s burden rather than be preoccupied with your own. Let your “wake-up” call jolt you out of your reluctance to reach out to handicapped and suffering people.
Develop a Personal Ministry of Mercy
Christ was touched with the feelings of our infirmities. When you become infirm, you acquire an increased sensitivity to other people and their infirmities. When God raises you up, you should act on every impulse to pray with and pray for those in affliction.
Qualified for Service
“Champions are never chosen from the ranks of the unscarred.” What you learn in your season of darkness can offer a ray of light to those who are entering their dark night of the soul. You are uniquely qualified to comfort others with the same comfort you have been comforted with (2 Cor. 1:4). Seize every opportunity to minister to the suffering: (1) Listen to them (2) Love them (3) Lighten their load (4) and pray with them.
Don’t Lose Your Sense of Humor
The ability to laugh is good for you and those around you. I understand that it is no laughing matter when you enter your valley, but the day will come when your heart becomes more settled and it is good to lighten things up a bit. I know a young girl who took chemo and lost her hair. When it grew back it was a different color. Her comment was, “I always wanted to be a blonde anyway!” Looking on the lighter side is therapeutic and aids in healing.
Fill Your Mind with God’s Thoughts
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8). There comes a point when you have researched and read enough about your illness. Choose to mentally focus on the good things. Eliminate unnecessary negative and “what if” thinking. Start reading the BOOK and other books that offer help, hope, and healing to your heart. *(See below for recommended reading list.)
Consider Christ’s Sacrifice
Jesus paid our sin debt by becoming sin for us and dying in our place. He offers eternal life to all who trust in Him for salvation. There is healing in Christ’s scars—“He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isa. 53:4). Heaven is a place of ultimate healing where all the consequences of the Fall are erased. Just think: no sickness, no suffering, no sin, and no sorrow—forever!
*Helpful Books: Streams in the Desert by L, B, Cowman, The God of All Comfort by Hannah Whithall Smith, Don’t Waste Your Sorrows by Paul Billheimer, When Heaven is Silent by Ron Dunn, Be of Good Cheer by John Bishop.