You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. Galatians 4:13-14
How do you act when you are not feeling well? Are you a grouch, or a recluse, or perhaps the type who wants to be the center of attention? Do you push people away or want them to all draw around you in your hour of need? Are your conversations filled with a litany of your aches and pains, or would you prefer not to talk about it? We all react differently when we are in pain or are ill. But, we do react.
When we are ill or injured, we are as vulnerable as a little animal is to prey. Our defenses are down. I heard a story on Christian radio that said coyotes can tell the sound of a hurt rabbit and will run to devour it. That point was that Satan can be like that. When we are hurting or ill, we open ourselves to three things – turning inward instead of to God, thinking mostly of ourselves first, and taking a break from our ministry of spreading the Kingdom. Paul didn’t. While he was recovering in Galatia, he didn’t let it stop him from doing the ministry God had given him to do. He took advantage of the opportunity. The verse says he was not scorned or despised. Because of his attitude, he still drew people to Christ, instead of to himself.
Sure, we all get ill. We have human, mortal bodies that wear down and wear out. God knows that. After all, He designed us with all of our strengths and weaknesses. But even in our illness, or after an injury, we can still be a witness to the Truth. We can still find the blessings hidden in the pain and be a ray of positive hope.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not think we are supposed to be martyrs by grinning and bearing it (thus calling even more attention to ourselves), but to be graced through it. Whatever we are going through, whatever physical limitation or pain, we can still seek God’s wisdom and see His hand in the situation. We can still point others to Him. We can still pray and stay positive. We can still be a beacon to the people He puts in our path – therapists, nurses, doctors, techs, other patients. We can still be of use. We can use our illness to show others everyday miracles and answered prayers. We can still appreciate others who want to help us out and thank them.
We don’t have to cry out like a hurt rabbit, inviting Satan in to devour our strength and faith. Instead, we can cry out to God, find strength and purpose in our ailments and draw others to us – the right way. Just like Paul did in Galatia. May you find peace in your pain, strength in your weakness, hope in your suffering, and God at work in your life.