Seeking to be transformed into the image of Jesus

Five Best Things About Being Sick

Like most people, I hate to get sick. Fortunately it doesn’t happen very often to me – it hasn’t happened in more than a year.  Unfortunately it happened this week. What started out as allergies turned into a nasty cold. The net effect is I feel tired and like someone has hit me over the head with a two by four most of the time.

While I don’t like being sick, I have realized there are actually some positives to illness. So without further ado, my top five best things about getting sick…

5. It reminds me I am human. I usually do not feel as old as I am. In my mind I can still do all the things I did twenty thirty years ago. Getting sick reminds me that I am, after all, only human. I can’t do everything. I have to accept and acknowledge my limits and live accordingly. I need to eat well; rest enough; and get good exercise. I do the first and third without problem (most of the time). It’s the “rest enough” that can be a challenge. Being sick forces me to break from the normal routines. It is a good reminder who is in charge; who is truly immortal; and who can truly do everything.

4. It forces me to slow down. I normally do pretty well at keeping a good balance between work and rest. I take time to reflect on what is happening in and around me. I have fairly good rhythms in my life. Even so, illness forces me to slow down. I cannot keep up the pace I’m used to following. I have to find a different rhythm. And that’s a good thing. Not only does it provide the needed rest to recover, it also…

3. It helps me prioritize. When I can’t do everything, I need to figure out what’s most important. What are the things I can let go of (perhaps only temporarily) and what do I have to do today. In the process of prioritizing I often identify things that not only don’t have to be done today, they actually are not even mine to do, or they have become distractions to what I’m supposed to do. I should, as part of my normal life rhythm, take time to evaluate how I’m doing. The truth is sometimes I don’t. Illness helps me to make sure I am focusing on the things I should when I should.

2. It makes me thankful. When I am sick, I appreciate health so much more. It can be easy to wallow in my illness or complain about it or become bitter and frustrated. I try not to let that happen. Instead, I find it usually helps me feel more grateful that I am usually a healthy person. I am thankful for physical blessings and also for spiritual ones. I am thankful that Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 are true: 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. Now granted, Paul is not talking about the common cold here, but when I’m sick even as it reminds me I am human, it also makes me thankful that there is a spiritual, inward reality that is coming alive and being renewed “day by day”.

1. It reminds me what an amazing woman and doctor my wife is. More than twenty-five years ago I married a medical student who is today a physician. Over the years my children and I have learned that there is a lot more we can do when we’re sick than we thought. While others would let colds or flus slow them down, Angie would give us a Tylenol or an Advil and (unless we were contagious) encourage us to keep going. She was sympathetic and she offered care and concern, but she also knew how much she was able to put up with – chronic pain among other things. She modeled for us that illness might slow us down a bit and needed to be attended to, but except in certain circumstances, it didn’t have to debilitate us. And the reality was, as a doctor, she could tell us exactly what we needed to do to get better and it pretty much always worked and worked quickly.

So, no, I don’t like being sick…but I have learned that it isn’t (usually) the end of the world. In fact, if I approach it with a good attitude, it can even be a gift.

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