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24 June, 2014

Christ in Sickness

"Surely, I am with you always — even unto the end of the world!" Matthew 28:20

Octavius Winslow, 1863

Christ is ever with you — in sickness. There are some trials which in an especial manner bring Christ near to us. There is a secret in all sorrow — there is a deep secret in sickness. To whom can the sufferer confide it? The disease, perhaps, perplexes the judgment or baffles the skill of the physician. 

The nervous irritability, the mental sensitiveness, the extreme weakness, the acute agony which renders the sound of the gentlest footfall too powerful for the frame — may be but little understood by the most considerate, tender watchers at your side. They, perhaps — but little know what heroic fortitude, what patient endurance of spirit — lie concealed beneath all this uncomplaining suffering, what an incessant conflict is waging, and by what a superhuman struggle — the mastery is obtained of the mind over the body, and of God's grace over both.

How difficult it is to suppress irritation, and how hard to express gratitude, when even the smile of love and the tear of compassion can awaken no responsive feeling — where all is pain, uneasiness, and despondency!

But Christ is ever with you in your sickness! You may not always be sensible of it. Your physical infirmities may absorb all thought and consciousness, but that of suffering and languor, depriving you of the sensible enjoyment of the Lords presence. Notwithstanding, He is at your side, watching you with sleepless love, supporting with His own grace — the spiritual depression of your soul; and mitigating with His own power — the anguish of your bodily sufferings.

Think of the human and tender considerateness of Christ! He knows your frame, and remembers that you are dust, and does not exact and expect from you, more than you are capable of experiencing. Blessed sickness — that leads the mind more fully into the conscious presence of Christ — that pillows the restless head upon His changeless love — that realizes the encircling of His omnipotent arm beneath the sinking frame — that attunes the discordant will into sweeter and more perfect harmony with His — that gently molds the soul to His own meek and patient spirit! Oh, holy lessons, precious truths, costly blessings — learned and experienced on a bed of sickness and of suffering! And were this the only blessing — the clinging, soothing, sustaining presence of Christ with the sick one He loves, it were enough.