The natural heart is as hard as a stone. It can see no good in anything which is not of this life, and no happiness excepting in this world. A long illness sometimes goes far to correct these ideas. It exposes the emptiness and hollowness of what the world calls “good” things, and teaches us to hold them with a loose hand.
Perhaps you, like me, have a refreshed sense of God’s sovereignty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While I’m hopeful we have the worst days behind us, I also think the world will never be the same, and other contagions/strands could spread in the future.
In case you needed a reminder of how God can work through hardship, J.C. Ryle shared these five ways God uses sickness for good in the short book Sickness (available here from Matthias Media). This essay is also in his longer work Practical Religion.
(a) Sickness helps to remind men of death. The most live as if they were never going to die. They follow business, or pleasure, or politics, or science, 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 not tenants at will. A heavy illness sometimes goes far to dispel these delusions. It awakens men from their day-dreams, and reminds them that they have to die as well as to live. Now this I say emphatically is a mighty good.
(b) Sickness helps to make men think seriously of God, and their souls, and the world to come. The most in their days of health can find no time for such thoughts. They dislike them. They put them away. They count them troublesome and disagreeable. Now a severe disease has sometimes 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 (2Ki 8:8). Even heathen sailors, when death was in sight, were afraid, and “cried every man to his god” (Jonah 1:5). Surely anything that helps to make men think is good.