Sickness: It’s Good For You

it's good for you

It’s good for you.

As a child in bed with a cold, I often watched with bleary eyes as my mother brought me a bowl of chicken soup. The steamy, salty broth was her way of caring for both my illness and showing her love to me.

I didn’t really want chicken soup, but my mother insisted, telling me what she always did at these occasions:

“It’s good for you.”

It turns out chicken soup does seem to have some level of healing and restorative properties, despite my childhood insistence that it was doing no good. To this day, when I’m ill and in bed, chicken soup heals both my body and my spirit, because of the love with which my wife brings it to me.

Sickness is good for you

I’m recovering from a second major surgery in a span of six months. This has left me scarred and bruised, limping and lurching. I’ve talked about my earlier surgery and dealing with the accompanying pain. Now I’m having to ponder these same things once again.

Sickness is humbling, because it robs us of our physical strength and forces us to rely on others. It reminds us of our mortality. There’s nothing like waking up at three in the morning hooked up to wires and tubes to remind you of the fragility of our very lives. It also reminds us of the love of those who care for us. My wife has been loving and kind, caring for my needs while taking care of a home, kids and her own job.

Ultimately, sickness is itself a kind of medicine, because it teaches us, purifies us and draws us toward God. In our humility we can learn to bear our weakness, and in our frailty we can learn of God’s mercy.

For it is absurd to be grateful to doctors who give us bitter and unpleasant medicines to cure our bodies, and yet to be ungrateful to God for what appears to us to be harsh, not grasping that all we encounter is for our benefit and in accordance with His providence. For knowledge of God and faith in Him is the salvation and perfection of the soul.”

— St. Anthony the Great, The Philokalia

When my priest came to visit me the day after I was discharged from the hospital, he brought me food far better than chicken soup: he brought the Eucharist, for the healing of my soul. No other medicine compares.

We learn far more from suffering than we do from success. I ask your prayers for healing and recovery, and that God will continue to teach me to rely more and more on Him.

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