Illness and Assurance

I am currently sitting at my parents’ dining room table, hacking away at a cough that has plagued me for about four weeks. I have had the flu now for a couple of days as well. In addition to this, just about everyone in my family is or has been sick, with my wife being the latest casualty, though most of the children seem now to be getting better. If my thoughts seem a bit delerious to you all today, you will know why. No one is in any danger, though prayers would of course be appreciated. The nature of such prayers should be determined by the following paragraphs.

I got to thinking about illness today, and was cogitating particularly on one of John Piper’s famous dictums: “Don’t waste your cancer.” It is, of course, quite difficult to think of illness as an asset in one’s Christian walk (James, did you HAVE to write that in chapter 1 about considering trials pure, unadulterated joy? There you have it: one of the passages that most strongly confronts my sinful idolatry of comfort). In my misery, I was concentrating on trying to be a good patient, and not being demanding of other people. Today I realized that this was far too low a goal (though it was not a bad one). How can I glorify God through having the flu? Now that is a better question. And it is surely the most important question.

However, there is a fringe benefit that comes along with focusing on God’s glory in the midst of trials: assurance. Surely the unbeliever would never consider seeking God’s glory through illness. If that is so, then it is a great comfort to me when God is working through me in such a way that I seek His glory. It means I am one of His children. Just a thought to brighten your day, especially if you have a sickness right now.

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4 Comments

  1. mary kathryn said,

    December 28, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    A wonderful commentary on this idea (trials being a blessing) is Donne’s Meditation 17, in which he shows the reader that sufferings (even death) are actually unmined gold. He goes so far as to assert that one may “mine” the sufferings of another human, and convert his unused gold into beneficial currency for one’s own spiritual good. Very interesting stuff.

  2. Jason Loh said,

    December 29, 2013 at 12:46 am

    Thank you for sharing.

    And thank you, Mary, for sharing from John Donne, one of my favourite figures from church history.

  3. tominaz said,

    December 30, 2013 at 11:51 am

    I’ve just completed 45 radiation treatments for prostate cancer and Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Cancer” along with Keith and Kristen Getty’s ‘Jesus, Draw Me Ever Nearer” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fodnd3fE4mQ – were helpful. Yes, it is hard to “think of illness as an asset in one’s Christian walk. ” That’s where grace enters in – daily, abundant grace.

  4. January 17, 2014 at 5:38 am

    […] Lane's post on a similar subject was a timely and pointed rebuke of my idolatry in this respect: Illness and Assurance | Green Baggins Daniel RPCI Northern Ireland "[A] soul is not utterly void of faith, that is in a doubting […]


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