Yesterday was one of those days when I kept wondering if I was getting sick. You know, I had that certain taste in my mouth and I kind of felt like I tried to wrestle Sasquatch and lost. Even though I feel significantly better this morning, last night had me preparing, both physically and spiritually, for the possibility of being sick. So, we probably know how to physically prepare for being sick, but how do we spiritually prepare for being sick? I think it’s a good idea to go and read Paul’s account of Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25-30. Epaphroditus is a guy that the Bible tells us very little about but he’s one of my favorite characters in all Scripture. Epaphroditus was a member of the Philippian church and he was sent by his church, most likely with a financial gift, to Paul while he was in prison. Well, Epaphroditus made it to Paul, but the report that Paul sends back to the Philippians is a hard one to hear. Paul tells them that he was “ill, near to death” (v. 27). However, in the face of this fatal sickness, this is how Epaphroditus responded, Paul says, “he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill” (v. 26). Did you catch that? Epaphroditus was deeply concerned for his church because he didn’t want them to be worried about him while he was sick.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’m holy enough to be Epaphroditus’ homeboy! Why? Because when I’m sick I tend to focus inward so that all I can really think about is how bad I feel, and I rarely give a thought to anyone else. I think it’s probably fair to say that most of us tend to think of ourselves more when we’re sick. Maybe you’re like me and you shuffle around the house hunched over like an old man acting as if death is standing at the door, or maybe you’re a whiner when you’re sick, or maybe you’re the kind of person that wants to be completely left alone. Whatever your response is, I think that Epaphroditus’ example is not a common one. But it shouldn’t be that way for Christians. Next time you’re sick, take three minutes to read about Epaphroditus again and then, leaning on the grace of God, try to focus your mind on others. I don’t mean that you have to go re-tile their bathroom for them in that condition, but spend some time praying for them instead of stewing in your pain. Epaphroditus is just an example of living like Jesus who “made Himself nothing” for us, so as you follow in his steps, you’ll be following in the steps of Jesus.