I am having a very off day with a stomach bug, courtesy of my 8 year old and the rest of the disease-carrying horde he goes to school with. It seems all it took for him to feel better was to toss his cookies once. Miracle cure and back to raising hell the next day. It must not work that way for old farts like me.
Severe bouts of nausea have the peculiar effect of focusing the mind. It’s almost impossible to think of anything else when you are so involved in how crappy you feel. If only I could gain this kind of focus in my prayer life I think I’d really be on to something. It’s exactly when you’re sick that your prayer life seems to suffer the most. I think if this were a life-threatening illness I’d be much more inclined to pray, but when it’s something ordinary and common you figure “Why bother God with something I know is going to be gone in 24 hours”. There must be a purpose even for small illnesses. St. John Chrysostom says,
“When the soul is diseased we usually feel no pain, but if the body suffers only a little, we make every effort to be free of the illness and its pain. Therefore, God corrects the body for the sins of the soul, so that by chastising the body, the soul might also receive some healing. Christ did this with the Paralytic when he said: Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. What do we learn from this? That the Paralytic’s disease had been produced by his sins” (Homily 38, On the Gospel of St. John).
I’m still not convinced a stomach bug qualifies as the sort of illness that’s going to help with my salvation. But since I’ve felt worse and worse all day, I have found something to pray for: “Please Lord, just one good puke and I won’t complain any more”.