In the 17th century, Brother Lawrence, a weak-though-strong monk, sent an ailing friend some healthy advice on what to do with his burden. The good Brother was well-acquainted with suffering; lame in one leg and saddled with illness, the simple, experiential devotional life of this humble monastery cook became an inspiration to many.
His own discovery into the precious joy of the abiding life is found in the small volume, The Practise of the Presence of God, which I vociferously recommend to you. Brother Lawrence’s sage advice to his sick friend includes this:
- I do not pray that you may be delivered from your pains, but I pray God earnestly that He would give you strength and patience to bear them as long as he pleases…
- 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…
- He often sends diseases of the body to cure those of the soul…
- I have been often near expiring, but I never was so much satisfied as then. Accordingly, I did not pray for any relief, but I prayed for strength to suffer with courage, humility and love. Ah, how sweet it is to suffer with God!
Brother Lawrence discovered a strength that could re-cast pain as something good. ‘Such prayers,’ he admitted, ‘are a little hard to nature, but most acceptable to God and sweet to those who love Him… I beseech you; comfort yourself with Him, who is the only Physician for our maladies.’
Do you have a sick friend?
These trustworthy words might do them some bit of good in this their hour of opportunity.
I actually post this while my body is battling infection, and I look to my Rapha with joy, and praise God for my “exhaustless Savior” (just read today) who is always nigh.