How to stay close to God when you’re feeling sick

About a month ago, there was something going around. Everyone I talked to seemed to be sick, or had someone at home who was sick. So, inevitably, it was only a matter of time before my husband and I got sick. It was only a flu, nothing life-threatening or long-term, but still rather horrible while it was there.

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I didn’t feel like doing much when I had the flu – our usual rhythms of cleaning, cooking, going to work were stopped in their tracks and most of the day was spent either sleeping or watching tv. But after a few days, when I was starting to recover, I noticed something. I had not read the Bible in days. Usually, I read the Bible in the evening and write some reflections on the passage in my notebook. But, being sick, I just didn’t feel like sitting at my desk, didn’t feel like thinking and writing. So, my Bible got neglected. Oh, this should not have happened! I don’t mean I needed to write a structured reflection when my head was foggy and my body aching, but I wish I’d spent more time with my Bible open.

When we’re sick, our usual ways of doing things might not work any more. Being ‘sick’, in this context, can cover a range of things – from the flu to chronic illness to mental health issues. This is a fallen world, and we can be laid low in a number of ways. But, there are also many ways that we can draw close to God even when we’ve got very little to give. Ways to reach out to God in our weakness and to rest in his grace.

1. Listen to worship music

Music has great power to bring peace and comfort. It’s also very powerful in helping us connect our heart to God’s. Personally, I love singing, but that’s just not happening when my head’s all stuffed up. Find a playlist on Spotify or iTunes of songs that glorify Jesus, that remind you of God’s great love, that lead you into a place of worship. As you lay down on your bed, listen to these songs and let the truth of God soak deep into you.

2. Read the Bible

I think I was avoiding the Bible because I couldn’t meet up to my usual standard. But the Bible’s never about our performance, it’s about God speaking to us. Even if you can only read one verse, read that one verse. Don’t stay away – drink deeply from those healing waters. Trust God to meet you there.

3. Listen to the Bible

If you’re really craving the word of God but don’t have the ability to read long passages, this is another option. There are many audio Bibles out there, some that seem better than others. One that I like is The Bible Experience. Or maybe you have a family member or friend who’s willing to read to you. Just like with listening to worship music, you can immerse yourself in the word in the comfort of your bed, surrounded by pillows.

4. Read a prayer book

In centuries past, most church services made use of a prayer book to structure their worship. This is something that’s been largely forgotten in many Christian circles, in favour of spontaneous prayer. But when your head’s too scattered and cloudy to come up with the words yourself, there’s something very comforting about reading the words of a prayer book. Whether you lean more towards Reformed, Wesleyan or Catholic – or if you like something a bit more contemporary – there are many beautifully written prayers and liturgies to choose from. As you read, make their sentiments your own heart’s cry.

It’s not an excuse to be slack with your spiritual disciplines. Once you’re better, or when you have good days, you can get back into your usual rhythm. But on those days when you have nothing much to give, there is grace. God delights in us reaching out to him, even if it’s in our weakness.

stay close to god when you're sick

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4 thoughts on “How to stay close to God when you’re feeling sick

  1. I had never thought of this before, but you’re right in encouraging us to maintain spiritual disciplines when we’re under the weather. It’s so easy to get thrown off course (and to make excuses for ourselves) when we’re sick.

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