Musings on Illness

Now, there are numerous views on the reasons behind illnesses.  From a Scriptural standpoint, illness entered the human race as a result of the curse, recorded in Genesis chapter three. Since Genesis, illness has been a part of life, affecting all beings to some degree.  From a practical standpoint, illness comes from a lowered immune system and exposure to infection or disease.

            Scientist and nutritionist explain that our immune systems are affected by the foods we eat, toxins that infiltrate our bodies through products or the environment. Our emotions, stress levels, and how often we exercise all impact our bodies and our health.  Then, there’s that genetic factor – due to genetics, some people are more prone to certain cancers, heart diseases, high blood pressure, etc.  Additionally, our spiritual lives (that part of us that gives us meaning and purpose) impact our health and well-being, both physically and mentally.  Of course, this topic is extensive, and here, we are only skimming the surface.

            So, why do people get sick?  Why is it that some people experience miraculous healing, while others are destined to suffer incredible pain, sometimes for years?  These are difficult questions, and while many have attempted to understand and explain illness, the reality is, even those who do experience miraculous healing eventually die at some later point in life.

            Of course, it is natural and normal for us as humans to seek purpose in our suffering.  We seek to understand, hoping that the meaning we discover will grant us strength to endure the obstacles or the distress.  And, often, finding a larger meaning behind suffering does provide strength and stimulates perseverance, because a change in perspectives takes place when meaning is found.  Humans are incredible beings, capable of courageously suffering tremendous pain and loss, if they deem the suffering worthwhile.  But what about when we cannot find a higher purpose behind our suffering?  What then?

            I wonder what would happen if illness could be viewed as a kind of gift?  Humans easily get busy and distracted with life; With things like: growing up, graduating, getting married, starting a family and/or a career, advancing up the professional ladder, making more money, accumulating more things… the list goes on and on… and, life inevitably passes us by.

            So, I wonder, what if illness actually provides us an opportunity to reevaluate our priorities, make changes, and focus more attention on the people or things most valuable to us.  Or, what if illness serves to remind us that life is short, thus helping us begin the process of embracing our lives moment by moment, living in the here and now, as well as with eternity in view.  Perhaps illness reminds us that we cannot control everything, and that there is a God who created us and who knows the day and hour that will be our last.  Maybe illness provides us opportunities to consider a new perspective on life….and, if that is the case, may each of us take advantage of the lessons we learn during these times and allow these lessons to change our lives for the better.