Posted by: kulanjiyil | May 15, 2008

MAKING THE MOST OF SICKNESSS

     Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667), was a Bishop of the Church of England who wrote pastoral treatises that provided a Christian approach to the vicissitudes of living, being ill and dying. Taylor believed that sickness was sent by God for the edification and growth of the sufferer; the God who did nothing in vain meant illness to be a school of faith and virtue. Specific burdens and pains of disease taught their special lessons. The sick man’s helplessness inculcated humility of spirit. As the illness ran its own course, the sufferer learned patience by being unable to hurry his own recovery. Most important of all, illness revealed the precariousness of life and taught faith. The threat of the end of life reminded one that life was God’s gracious gift. Thus, the Christian during illness, like an attentive pupil before his teacher, learned much about himself and about the human predicament. Here are some of his central ideas:

1.  Suffering as opportunities for spiritual growth and maturity: 

Resolve to bear your sickness like a child, that is, without considering the evils and the pains, the sorrows and the danger forward and let thy thoughts cast about for nothing, but how to make advantages of it by the instrument of religion.

Be patient in the desires of religion; and take care that the forwardness of exterior actions do not discompose thy spirit; while thou fairest by less serving God in thy disability, thou runniest backward in the accounts of pardon and the favor of God. Be content, that the time, which was formerly spent in prayer, be now spent in vomiting, and carefulness, and attendances; since God hath pleased it should be so, it does not become us to think hard thoughts concerning it.  

2. Embracing suffering with patience: 

He that is afraid of pain is afraid of his own nature; and if his fear be violent, it is a sign his patience is none at all, and an impatient person is not ready dressed for heaven. None but suffering given us the whole stage of our life to exercise all the active virtues of religion, it is necessary in the state of virtues, that some portion and period of our lives be assigned to passive graces, for patience, for Christian fortitude, for resignation, or conformity to the Death. 

3. Experiencing God’s grace and blessings in suffering:

That which remains in the practice of this grace is, that the sick man should do acts of patience by way of prayer and ejaculations…Because God sends it to his servants, to his children, to little infants, to apostles and saints, with designs of mercy, to preserve their innocence, to overcome temptation, to try their virtue, to fit them for rewards; it is certain that sickness never is an evil but by our own faults; and if we will do our duty, we shall be sure to turn it into a blessing. 

4.  Attitude towards Physicians and other nursing personals:

Physicians are the ministers of God’s mercies and providence, in the matter or health and ease, of restitution or death; and when God shall enable their judgments, and direct their counsels, and prosper their medicines, they shall do thee good, for which you must give God thanks, and to the physician the honor of a blessed instrument. Treat thy nurses and servants sweetly, and as it becomes an obliged and necessitous person.

        

LET’S HAVE A CONVERSATION…

  1. Does your faith tradition hold a theology of illness and dying? If so, what is it?
  2. How do you make sense of pain, suffering, and ultimately death?              

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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