When we get sick, it’s tempting to turn inwards, focused only on ourselves and our self-preservation. While we should certainly do all that we can to seek proper medical attention, we should also turn our suffering into something spiritually fruitful by offering it to God.
St. Francis de Sales explains in his Introduction to the Devout Life that we should strive to accept the illness God permits in our lives with humility and patience. We need to trust in God’s providence and know in our hearts that he is allowing this sickness for a specific purpose.
[D]ear child, be sure that we must patiently accept, not sickness only, but such sickness as God chooses to send, in the place, among the people, and subject to the circumstances which He ordains; — and so with all other troubles. If any trouble comes upon you, use the remedies with which God supplies you .. .[then] wait whatever result He wills with perfect resignation. If He pleases to let the evil be remedied, thank Him humbly; but if it be His will that the evil grow greater than the remedies, patiently bless His Holy Name.
It is not easy to bless God both in sickness and health, but that is exactly what God wants us to do. We need to foster gratitude for our sickness when we have it as well as when it is healed.
Besides accepting sickness from the hand of God, we also should offer it back to him as a sacrifice, asking him to use it for his purposes.
When you are sick, offer all your pains and weakness to our Dear Lord, and ask Him to unite them to the sufferings which He bore for you. Obey your physician, and take all medicines, remedies and nourishment, for the Love of God, remembering the vinegar and gall He tasted for love of us; desire your recovery that you may serve Him; do not shrink from languor and weakness out of obedience to Him, and be ready to die if He wills it, to His Glory, and that you may enter into His Presence.
Above all, picture in your mind the sufferings of Christ and remind yourself of all that he endured for your sake.
Gaze often inwardly upon Jesus Christ crucified, naked, blasphemed, falsely accused, forsaken, overwhelmed with every possible grief and sorrow, and remember that none of your sufferings can ever be compared to His, either in kind or degree, and that you can never suffer anything for Him worthy to be weighed against what He has borne for you.
Any illness is not easy to bear, but its weight lightens a bit when we let God carry some of the burden.
Pray for the sick with this short prayer
When you’re sick, consecrate yourself to Our Lady with this prayer from Pius XII