I don’t know if you’ve occasionally heard people talk about sickness or suffering as a gift from God? You know, something that may not be pleasant or enjoyable but isn’t to be wasted? Usually invoked in support of this are passages like 2 Cor 12.7b-9 (about Paul’s thorn) or the biblical theme of God disciplining his people as dearly loved children.
Now I have some reservations about this (along similar lines to this article by the Bishop of South Sydney). But the point I want to make in this post is that my ongoing experience of sickness over the course of this year — nothing really bad, just persistent and more difficult to shake than previously — has taught me the reverse. It’s helped me see that health itself is a gift.
Maybe I’m starting to shake off my youthful illusions of invulnerability. Or maybe I’ve been given a peek behind the way modern Western healthcare contributes to our habit of avoiding honest confrontation with our own limitation and mortality.
Either way, I’m gradually getting a sense that health is not necessarily the default option. It’s not a natural state to be presumed upon and taken for granted. Rather it is a gift — and like all God’s good gifts it is to be received thankfully, enjoyed humbly and its benefits shared generously…