Reading “He Himself took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses.” Matthew 8:17
How closely and tenderly is Jesus one with His church! There is not a chamber of sickness, nor a bed of suffering, at which His presence may not be experienced in all the divine power and human sympathy of His nature. The careful reader of His life must be impressed with the frequency with which His personal contact with bodily infirmity and disease is recorded and with what promptness and skill He addressed Himself to the task of alleviation and cure. His power and skill are needed today and are still the same.
He bore our sicknesses when He bore our sins. Sin is the source of all evil and disease. This thought may intensify the sufferings of the child of God. The thought that, had it not been for some hidden declension of soul, some sin of omission or of commission, his Heavenly Father would not have not sent the discipline of sickness is intensely painful to the heart that desires to please God in all things. But how consolatory the truth that, if we may trace all disease to sin as its original cause, the Christian may also trace all sin to the cross of Christ, where He atoned for it, pouring from His own heart’s blood a stream which has cleansed it all away. Oh, let this thought, my soul, soothe and comfort you—that in all your bodily suffering, or circumstances there is no condemnation, the atoning blood of Jesus having washed you whiter than snow, leaving you not the cause, but only the effects of your sin.
But, if sin is the originating cause of sickness, love—divine, everlasting, unchangeable love—is the immediate and proximate cause. That is a sweet expression in reference to Lazarus: ”He whom you LOVE is sick.” No physician can bring to your sick bed a medicine so healing, a remedy so soothing, as this truth—that your sickness originated with a Father’s love—love selecting the nature, love appointing the time, love grouping all the circumstances of the affliction. If, Lord, I can but see that Your love kindled this burning fever, appointed these silent hours, this darkened room, this sick-bed, these quivering nerves, this throbbing head, this fluttering heart, ”may Your will, not mine, be done.”
Jesus bears our sickness in the grace and sympathy by which He enables us, uncomplainingly and submissively, to bear it. Oh, what a hallowed sanctuary is often the sickroom of a child of God! What divine presence is there felt, what glorious manifestations of the Saviour we may have there, what holy lessons are there learned, what heavenly prospects are there unveiled! Jesus is there, and thus makes it all that it is.
Be not hasty in judging of the state of your soul in sickness. Mind and body reciprocally and powerfully act upon each other. A diseased body will often impart its morbid complexion to a healthy soul, and, looking away from Jesus, will fill it with doubt, darkness, and despondency. It is what Christ is, and not what you are, that is to fill you with peace, joy, and hope.
Cheer up, my soul! This long, this painful sickness is not unto death, but that God may be glorified; you will emerge from this fire more Christ-like and thus by the sanctifying discipline of sickness, your covenant God and Saviour is but preparing you to dwell in that happy land, the inhabitants of which shall no more say, “I am sick.”
Taken from Consider Jesus: Thoughts for Daily Duty, Service, and Suffering by Octavius Winslow, 1870 (public domain).