The Prayer of a Sick Man
Gracious God, You are my help and my hope. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done in my life today.
Read Psalm 41:1-13
 For the director of music. A psalm of David.
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“The continuing ministry of Christ with us is to add life to our years and years to our life. In Christ, the healing heart of God and all our hurts meet” (Lloyd John Ogilvie).
This psalm has been described as the prayer of a sick person. It includes both testimony of healing and recovery and lament regarding the unfaithfulness of friends and the hostility of enemies. Indeed, the bulk of the poem concerns the writer’s distress at the absence of human support during his illness and the negative and slanderous interpretation other people appeared to make regarding his plight.
Two things stand out. First is the reality of the mental and spiritual distress which often accompanies serious illness. Human beings are complex creations and the relationship between physical, mental and spiritual dimensions are both very real and often problematic. For example, a diseased brain is a physical problem requiring appropriate medical intervention, but since this wondrous organ is the seat of thought and feeling an illness here frequently brings serious problems in regard to mental and spiritual health. Perhaps this is reflected in the psalmist’s lament, which may suggest that his perception of the behavior of other people has been distorted by his disease.
Second, the psalm alerts us to the critical importance of true sympathy for sufferers and great care in the use of language spoken to or about them. Casual comments, even if not intended to cause distress, can do immense harm to those wrestling with disease. While at first glance the language of the psalm may strike us as extreme, we should reflect that in the age of social media the careless and thoughtless use of language about other people appears to be increasing. More than ever, and especially in relation to friends facing grave illness, we need to act according to the words of Jesus, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matt. 7:1).
Are you struggling with serious illness? Reread verses 12 and 13. Is someone close to you ill and confused? Seek to be Christ’s representative in their weakness and despair.
Lord, help me to understand the distress of seriously ill people and to respond with the compassion of Jesus.
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