Here’s how we usually view sickness and trouble as Christians –

(1)   Those who love me want me to be as healthy and happy as possible.

(2)   Since God loves me, he wants me to be as healthy and happy as possible.

(3)   If I’m sick or in trouble, I should ask God to make it better, and he will.

(4)   The same applies to people I love.  If they suffer, I should ask the loving Father to relieve their pain, and he will.

It would be easy to assume that’s not only biblical logic but irrefutable common sense.  Except for the Apostle Paul’s experience.  And Brother Lawrence’s counsel.

Brother Lawrence, the 16th century monk best-known for “practicing the presence of God,” learned to think and pray differently about sickness – his own and that of others.  Here are some of his quotes –

“I wish you could convince yourself that God is often (in some sense) nearer to us and more effectually present with us, in sickness than in health.”

“The greatest pleasures would be hell to me, if I could relish them without Him; all my consolation would be to suffer something for His sake.”

“I am in pain to see you suffer for so long.  What gives me some ease and sweetens the feeling I have of your griefs is that they are proofs of God’s love towards you.”

“Ask of God, not deliverance from your pains, but strength to bear resolutely, for the love of Him, all that He should please, and as long as He shall please.”

“God knows best what is needful for us, and all that He does is for our good.  If we knew how much He loves us, we would be always ready to receive equally and with indifference from His hand the sweet and the bitter.”

It is certainly not unbiblical to pray for healing and relief from suffering.  But Lawrence reminds us that the main thing is drawing close to the Lord and learning to trust him, no matter what.  The reprieve is of secondary importance.

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