Without faith it is difficult to endure sickness, but with Christ, it takes on a new meaning.
None of us wants to get sick or endure a physical ailment that brings great suffering. It is a basic part of being human to avoid whatever leads to pain.
However, in the light of faith, sickness and physical suffering take on a new meaning.
St. John Paul II instituted an annual “World Day of the Sick,” and in his first message, he stressed how faith can help us endure whatever ailment afflicts us.
Illness, which in everyday experience is perceived as a frustration of the natural life force, for believers becomes an appeal to “read” the new, difficult situation in the perspective which is proper to faith. Outside of faith, moreover, how can we discover in the moment of trial the constructive contribution of pain? How can we give meaning and value to the anguish, unease, and physical and psychic ills accompanying our mortal condition? What justification can we find for the decline of old age and the final goal of death, which, in spite of all scientific and technological progress, inexorably remain?Yes, only in Christ, the incarnate Word, Redeemer of mankind and victor over death, is it possible to find satisfactory answers to such fundamental questions. In the light of Christ’s death and resurrection illness no longer appears as an exclusively negative event; rather, it is seen as a “visit by God,” an opportunity “to release love, in order to give birth to works of love towards neighbor, in order to transform the whole of human civilization into a civilization of love.”
This positive side of suffering is not an easy pill to swallow, but it does help us stay calm in the midst of suffering. Instead of focusing on the negative, we recognize that God allowed this sickness for a reason. We may not know that reason immediately, but over time we may catch a glimpse of God’s divine plan.
Without faith, illness can be difficult to endure and our anxiety level only rises. The good news is that Jesus Christ is the “Divine Physician,” and desires not only the health of our body, but most of all the health of our soul. With this in mind, we are able to accept the cross Jesus gives to us and ask God what he wants us to learn.
Jesus was always close to those who were sick during his ministry on earth and showed his sincere compassion for them. He then took upon himself the suffering of us all and nailed it to the cross. In our own suffering, we can unite ourselves to Jesus on the cross and feel a small amount of the pain he endured for love of us.
St. John Paul II concluded his message with a prayer to Our Lady, asking for her support for all the sick and suffering in the world.
May the Blessed Virgin, “Health of the Sick” and “Mother of the Living,” be our support and our hope … increase our sensitivity and dedication to those being tested, along with the trusting expectation of the luminous day of our salvation, when every tear will be dried forever (cf. Is 25:8). May it be granted to us to enjoy the first fruits of that day from now on in the superabundant joy — though in the midst of all tribulations (cf. 2 Cor 7:4) — promised by Christ which no one can take from us (Jn 16:22).
Pray for the sick with this short prayer