Whether mild or life-threatening, peace can be found when illness is lifted up to God.
Yet, throughout the Bible God challenges his people to thank him for an illness. This may seem strange to our ears, but in God’s eyes, all things can work for our salvation. Just as our health is a gift from God, so too our illness can be seen as a gift. It may not seem like a gift and may look more like a curse. The problem is that we are not always able to see why we are given an illness at a specific time and only later on that we can look back and see the gift that it was.
Whatever you do, after being diagnosed with an illness, cry out to God in prayer. Be honest with your feelings and ask God for strength to understand his ways. Here is a prayer from the St. Vincent’s Manual that can help us develop a different view of our illness and see it as a pathway to discover the presence of God.
Lord my God! I accept the sickness with which thou art pleased to visit me, as a special favor from thy fatherly hand. I accept all its circumstances and consequences, in satisfaction for my sins. Thou gavest me health and strength, Lord, and thou hast taken them away: may thy holy name be for ever blessed. I most humbly adore all thy divine appointments, and resign myself entirely to the direction of thy wise providence, acknowledging that thou treatest me with too much indulgence. May thy holy will be done on earth as it is in heaven! I offer myself, with an entire submission, to suffer whatever thou pleasest, as long as thou pleasest, and in what manner thou pleasest. Thou knowest how frail I am; that I am nothing but dust and ashes. Deal not with me according to my sins, neither punish me according to my iniquity; but, according to the multitude of thy most tender mercies, have compassion on me. Let thy justice be tempered with mercy; and let thy heavenly grace come to my assistance, to support me under this illness. Confirm my soul with strength from above, that I may bear with fortitude and Christian patience, and even with the warmest gratitude, all the pains, disquiets and difficulties of my sickness. Be thou my defense against the assaults of the enemy. Grant also, if this illness is to be my last, that I may not be deprived of those helps which thou hast, in thy mercy, prepared to strengthen my soul on its passage to eternity; that, being perfectly cleansed from all my sins, I may believe in thee, trust in thee, and, through the merits of thy passion and death, be admitted into the company of the blessed, where I may love and praise thee for ever. Amen.
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