There is never a good time to get sick. But right now feels like a particularly bad one.
Perhaps there is work on your plate that only you can do, work that really must be done very soon. Maybe you work remotely, which is great — until it means you are expected to show up even with sniffles and aches. Maybe it’s a family member who’s sick, thrusting you into a caregiving role you really don’t have the margin to fill right now. And, if no one in your orbit is sick right now, they probably will be soon.
Yes, there is never a good time to get sick. But we also know that sickness is part of life in a fallen world. We should expect that it will come and consider what we think about it when it does. Here are some thoughts that sickness might dredge up about our work — and some more truthful suggestions to meditate on instead:
Instead of thinking, “I am sick because I did something wrong,” think: “I am sick because I live in a fallen world.”
Our bodies are wonderfully made in the image of God, but they are also stained and broken by sin. This means we get sick — not because we didn’t follow the right vitamin regimen, but because of the fall. Sicknesses are among the “thorns and thistles” (Gen. 3:18) through which we must work until Christ’s return.
As Sam Allberry writes in What God Has to Say about Our Bodies, “The main connection between suffering and sin is at a general, humanity-wide level rather than at an individual level. It is not that one person’s suffering (or sickness) is a sign of his or her sin, but that anyone’s suffering is a sign of everyone’s sin.”
Instead of thinking, “God is working against me,” think: “Actually, He intends to show up in and through my weakness.”
When sickness strikes at just the wrong time, it can feel like God is working against the good work we are trying to do. But Scripture is filled with evidence that God is for us. As Romans 8:32 reminds us, God “did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all… how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
In our physical weakness — our inability to do the things we want to do — God says to us what he said to Paul in his: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).
Instead of thinking, “I don’t have time for this,” think: “I am a human with limitations, and that’s OK.”
We don’t often like to leave margins for the inconvenience of being human. But caring for the bodies we’ve been given to steward takes time — especially when those bodies break, age and get sick. But God is not surprised by this aspect of our humanity, and we don’t need to be, either. “No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13).
We can trust that the limitations that come into our days — even those that limit the good work we can do in a day — have passed through the fingers of a loving God. Perhaps we can learn to say with David, even on our sick days, that “the boundary lines have fallen… in pleasant places” (Psalm 16:6).
Instead of thinking, “I can power through,” think: “Is this an opportunity to receive rest?”
What if your weariness is not an enemy to be battled but an invitation to rest? Jesus Christ extends this invitation to those who are weary, whether in body or in soul. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).
Those who trust in Christ’s finished work of salvation can rest in it, too. The most important work of today has been done for you.