What are some spiritual benefits of physical sickness?

One of the great benefits in writing, Visit the Sick: Ministering God’s grace in times of illness, was all the great counsel I received from those who learned it long before I did.  One of those who most impacted and taught me was the great, J.C. Ryle.  May you benefit, as I did, from Ryle on the benefits of physical sickness for the soul:

Sickness helps to remind men of death. The most live as if they were never going to die. They follow business, or pleasure, or politics, or science, as if earth was their eternal home. They plan and scheme for the future, like the rich fool in the parable, as if they had a long lease of life, and were not tenants at will. A heavy illness sometimes goes far to dispel these delusions. It awakens men from their daydreams, and reminds them that they have to die as well as to live. Now this I say emphatically is a mighty good.

Sickness helps to make men think seriously of God, and their souls, and the world to come. The most in their days of health can find no time for such thoughts. They dislike them. They put them away. They count them troublesome and disagreeable. Now a severe disease has sometimes a wonderful power of mustering and rallying these thoughts, and bringing them up before the eyes of a man’s soul. Even a wicked king like Benhadad, when sick, could think of Elisha (2 Kings 8:8). Even heathen sailors, when death was in sight, were afraid, and cried every man to his god (Jonah 1:5).  Surely anything that helps to make men think is a good.

Sickness helps to soften men’s hearts, and teach them wisdom. The natural heart is as hard as a stone. It can see no good in anything which is not of this life, and no happiness excepting in this world. A long illness sometimes goes far to correct these ideas. It exposes the emptiness and hollowness of what the world calls “good” things, and teaches us to hold them with a loose hand. The man of business finds that money alone is not everything the heart requires. The woman of the world finds that costly apparel, and novel-reading, and the reports of balls and operas, are miserable comforters in a sick room. Surely anything that obliges us to alter our weights and measures of earthly things is a real good.

Sickness helps to level and humble us. We are all naturally proud and high–minded. Few, even of the poorest, are free from the infection. Few are to be found who do not look down on somebody else, and secretly flatter themselves that they are “not as other men.” A sick bed is a mighty tamer of such thoughts as these. It forces on us the mighty truth that we are all poor worms that we “dwell in houses of clay,” and are “crushed before the moth” (Job 4:19), and that kings and subjects, masters and servants, rich and poor, are all dying creatures, and will soon stand side by side at the bar of God. In the sight of the coffin and the grave it is not easy to be proud. Surely anything that teaches that lesson is good.

Posted in Hospital Visitation, Oversight of Souls
3 comments on “What are some spiritual benefits of physical sickness?
  1. Chad says:

    Thank you for your insights. As I lay here flat on my back unable to move because of back spasms, I reach for God and he is there. Is it possible to be in pain and still fell joy? Only if He puts it there.

  2. AE says:

    A timely & beneficial reminder – thanks!

5 Pings/Trackbacks for "What are some spiritual benefits of physical sickness?"
  1. […] Practical Shepherding – What are some spiritual benefits of physical sickness? […]

  2. […] called Visit the Sick: Ministering God’s Grace in Times of Illness (or Amazon). He passes on some wisdom from J.C. Ryle on the benefits of physical sickness for the soul: Sickness helps to remind men of death. The most […]

  3. […] Croft posted this list of some of the benefits of sickness on his blog, Practical Shepherding. He, in turn, got them from the 19th century pastor and writer, J. C. […]

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  5. […] 9, 2010 by strengthenedbygrace Pastor Brian Croft shares insights he learned from J. C. Ryle about the spiritual benefits of sickness. Sickness helps […]

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