The Protection of Illness

I usually don’t drink enough water on a backpacking trip, so dehydration probably triggered the headache.

I tried the normal anti-migraine things to nip it in the bud—drink lots of water; eat protein; drink strong coffee quickly; lie down in the cool, dark basement. None of it worked.

Within hours, this thing had grown into the fiercest migraine I’d had in years—debilitating pain, violent nausea. I was reduced to the words: “Help me, God. Help me, God.” As hard as I could, I pressed hands to head and head to pillow to keep my brain from bursting out of my skull.

In the middle of the pounding, I remembered. God had taught me something in the Gospel of Mark, and I thanked Him that I could even think about it despite the vice clamped on the upper part of my brain.

Many sick or friends of the sick came to Jesus—flocked to Jesus—desperate for healing.

Others, Pharisees, came to Jesus wanting to kill Him.

I pictured these two kinds of people. On one hand, the sick. I imagined their ailments, perhaps lifelong, and the suffering they’ve endured. Doctor fees, degrading treatments, physical pain, emotional anguish. I could see why, when they heard about Jesus, they came running.

On the other hand, the Pharisees. They followed Him around and even invited Him to dinner to test Him, to trap Him, to find grounds to condemn Him. Watching Him especially on the Sabbath to see if He would heal that day, they cared more about the Sabbath (which is supposed to be for man) than they cared about man.

He [Jesus] said to the man with the withered hand, Get up and come forward! And He said to them [the Pharisees], Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill? But they kept silent.

After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, Stretch out your hand. And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.
(Mark 3:3-6)

To actually want to destroy Jesus for healing on the Sabbath! Apparently, miraculous healings don’t astound everyone.

As I pictured these Pharisees, their hunting hatred, and the scornful looks on their faces, I realized . . .

None of these guys are sick. They’re all healthy—physically healthy—otherwise they would have cared more about Jesus’ healing than the fact that He did it on the Sabbath.

Would physical illness have changed their attitude?

Many who were sick came to be healed; others who were healthy came to kill. Would sickness have protected the Pharisees from being—well, pharisaical?

When I am sick, could it be a protection?

I’ve never had pride and a migraine at the same time. When I’m hurting, I’m not hating. Does God allow my illnesses or hard circumstances so that I might have a soft heart toward Him?

This is what I remembered that Saturday evening as I half wished I could cut off the throbbing part of my head: the pain I experience now is protective. In this pain, I am not a Pharisee. In this sickness, God brings me to healthy humility. Remembering my lessons from the Gospel of Mark, I held my head and thanked God.

Then I took an ibuprofen.

(This Thursday Bonnie Gray invites: Share a moment you felt close to God recently. Click on the FaithBarista badge below to read more posts on closeness with God!)



3 thoughts on “The Protection of Illness

  1. Hmm….what a great post to make me thank God. I have chronic back pain and it does often make me run to Jesus. The illness can indeed be a protection. Such wisdom here, Monica. Thank you for putting it into words (although I’m sorry that your migraine was so horrible!).

    [I noticed your link wasn’t working correctly at Faith Barista, if you want to check it and repost…]

  2. Oh, yes Monica! What wonderful insight. And did the ibuprophen work? Sometimes more than one… I was glimpsing something like this recently only hadn’t put it into words. That all that we suffer is not purposeless. That the hard times I’ve faced both within and without have been character building either by his grace in a quick faith response or by his grace in a slow struggle to believe and to act on that faith. I must thank him either way. I do thank him for being there, for loving me through the pain, and for, as Amy Carmichael put it in IF, letting the pain teach me of Calvary Love. I still think I’m not putting it into words well, so I thank him for your post!

  3. Pingback: Two Hundred Meters, but No Closer | Know-Love-Obey God

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