I’ve been down for the count, punched out by pneumonia. I’ve been sleeping a lot, having trouble breathing, missing out on family activities and work. It would be easy to get down when I’m as sick as I’ve been. It would be tempting to blame this kind of sickness on random chance, seeing it as a cosmic roll of the dice that wound me up with a bacteria deciding it was a good idea to make a home in my lungs. Or, it’s tempting to think of it as the work of something more sinister, some evil force.
But Judaism doesn’t allow such easy outs. Everything, even the things we don’t like, come from G-d and it’s our challenge to reconcile that when what we’re given isn’t what we want. Everything is for our good, but not everything feels good.
As I worked on healing my body, taking antibiotics and drinking lots of fluids, I pondered how having pneumonia might be for my good. For one, I certainly appreciate my health a lot more now that I’m getting better! Just breathing freely is a huge gift that is easy to take for granted. I have more gratitude for my family, who took such kind care of me while I was sick. Even the kids tenderly cared for me. It’s also a great lesson to them in how family takes care of each other and pitches in. I was grateful for my husband’s patience and kindness as he did double duty. I was thankful for an employer that was more concerned that I get better than about missed work.
I realize just how blessed I am that this is unusual for me, that I’m usually so able to keep up with things and healthy enough to do so.
Then there’s all those things I can never know. Did being sick prevent me from being somewhere or doing something that could have been bad for me? Did having to rest during this time prevent me from having something worse happen? I only can see my small part of the bigger picture, so there’s no way to know what a gift this sickness might have been.
I am grateful to be feeling better, but I also thank G-d for pneumonia.