The roller coaster of bitter freezing cold and slight warming over the past eight weeks or so in our area has finally taken its toll on me.
First, it was my daughter who got the flu. We took her to the doctor. Then when my wife felt similar symptoms, my daughter took care of us, making sure we took our Robitussin DM and medicines, and cooked soup for us. When my wife did not improve I took her to Urgent Care and she was diagnosed to have bronchitis. Someone in the household must be up and about to take care of her.
But contrary to my hope and self-confidence of strength, I just fell down, and hard. (A younger man could have stood strong.) My wife made a doctor's appointment for me. Now it has been seven days and I am not well yet. To top it all, gout had to make an attack, with the sharp pain immobilizing me.
Why am I writing about this? Would anyone care to read tnis story?
It does not really matter. Writing for self-expression may be sufficient reason for its being. But it would be good if someone curious or interested did, if only to learn how I reflected and dealt with this temporary little crisis in my life, because it is something that also happens to many others.
The first thought I had is that I am just like any other member of the human race, subject to physical frailties and weaknesses, and that all these are clear reminders of my mortality. It is an invitation to humility.
The second is that being sick has some blessings, too. It makes one have more time to reflect and to pray, and to realize that it is a time to practice what is called "the redemptive value of suffering," i.e., not letting one's sufferings go to waste by joining them with those of Christ, offering them for an intention, like the conversion of one who has strayed away from the Faith, or for another sick person to get well.
The third thought I had is that it is an opportunity to grow in the virtue of patience, the virtue of being able to wait in suffering, and to trust in the love of the Lord, and to hope that all these will sometime in the future just pass, and health will take over.
I used to crack a corny joke that I can never be a doctor because I do not have patients (pronounce "patience"). :-)
But kidding aside, my background as a Latin student, all of a sudden brought to mind the root word of "patience" -- "patior," which means "to suffer" and "cum," which means "with."
Thus, the English word "compassion" -- "to suffer with" another.
I think that the way we view our own suffering needs to be expanded to include compassion for others, suffering with others, otherwise it would just be more of self-pity.
This, of course, reminds me of the Good Samaritan who had compassion for the traveler beaten up by robbers and left to die on a deserted roadside. This beautiful story bears reading again and again.
Our Lord gave us this story to learn from and act on, again and again. For this is the basis of the judgement He will pronounce on us when we see Him face to face.
As to my present sufferings, all these shall pass.#
"Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:34-40)
(English translation: "No one lives for himself alone. No one dies for himself alone. We all have a responsibility towards one another. All of us have been gathered by God to Himself. If we love and serve others, we are bringing the good news of salvation.")