November, which started out well being on mission in Trinidad and Tobago, has turned out to be a most difficult month physically. The virus that turned into pneumonia which kept me out for longer than I ever anticipated, left me feeling rather useless, frustrated, and discouraged. My days are usually filled with study, meetings (both formal and informal), and working on my dissertation on Spurgeon in the evenings. In running up to the Trinidad missions trip, we were preparing for a leaders retreat along with a Stay Pure conference in the evenings during the week. Plus, I knew that sleeping on this missions trip would be difficult given the heat and humidity.
When we sat on the plane coming back (a six-hour redeye flight over the Caribbean), I spent four of those six hours with chills so bad that I couldn’t shake them off. I arrived back home with a 101.7 temperature. Then the virus. Then the pneumonia.
By God’s kind providence, I came across a quote from none other than Charles Spurgeon:
“Health is set before us as if it were the great thing to be desired above all other things. It is so? I would venture to say that the greatest blessing that God can give to any of us is health, with the exception of sickness. Sickness has frequently been of more use to the saints of God than health has. If some men, that I know of, could only be favoured with a month of rheumatism, it would, by God’s grace, mellow them marvelously.”C. H. Spurgeon, “The Minister in These Times” in An All-Round Ministry (Banner of Truth, 2000), p. 384
I confess, sickness is seldom seen as a blessing—I know I did not see it as such. Yet, sickness is often used in Scripture as a teacher in a way health could never be (read the book of Job). All through the Gospels, sickness brought about a desperation to seek out the Savior for comfort and relief. But I believe the greatest lesson sickness shows us is that we are not superhuman. We need rest, we need help, we need… well… we need Christ!
God did not ever promise to take away our sickness, but He did promise to always be with us no matter our situation. From Moses, to the prophets, to those in Exile in Babylon, to the disciples in the Great Commission, to Hebrews, to the end of Revelation, the abiding promise from God is (in one form or another) is, “I will be with you!” Sickness always develops resilience in reliance—a decided maturity in relying on Christ for all things.