Winter storms often bring out the defects in a man’s house. In the same way, sickness often exposes the gracelessness of a man’s soul. Indeed anything that makes us find out the real character of our faith is a good.
I know the suffering and pain that sickness entails. I admit the misery and wretchedness that it often brings along with it, but I cannot regard it as an unmixed evil. I see in it a useful provision to check the ravages of sin in men’s souls. If man had never sinned, I would have been at a loss to discern the benefit of sickness. But since sin is in the world, I can see that sickness is a good. It is a blessing quite as much as a curse. I grant it is a rough schoolmaster, but sickness is a real friend to man’s soul. Here are some of the benefits that sickness may bestow:
1. Sickness helps to remind men of death.
Most people live as if they were never going to die. They follow business, or pleasure, or politics, or amusements as if earth was their eternal home. They plan and scheme for the future, like the rich fool in the parable, as if they had a long lease of life, and were always to live in this poor world. A heavy illness sometimes goes far to dispel these delusions. It awakens men from their daydreams and reminds them that they have to die as well as to live. Now, this, I say emphatically, is a mighty good.
2. Sickness helps make men think seriously of God, their souls, and the world to come.
In their days of health, most people can find no time for such thoughts. They dislike them. They put them away. They count them troublesome and disagreeable. Now, a severe disease sometimes has a wonderful power of mustering and rallying these thoughts and bringing them up before the eyes of a man’s soul. Even a wicked king like Benhadad, when sick, could think of Elisha (2 Kings 8:8.) Even heathen sailors on the boat with Jonah were afraid when death was in sight, and “every man cried out to his god.” (Jonah 1:5.) Indeed anything that helps to make men mindful of eternity is a good.