Elder Porphyrios suffered many illness during his life. It was the reason he could not stay on Mount Athos. Even though he suffered more than a normal person, he would thank God for his illnesses.
I am in great pain, but my illness is something very beautiful. I feel it as the love of Christ. I am given compunction and I give thanks to God. It is on account of my sins. I an sinful and God is trying to purify me.Normally we pray asking God to heal us, to free us from a maladies. But the Elder takes a different course. When he was sixteen he asked God to give him a cancer so He should suffer for His love. His elder told him to not pray in this way because it was egoism. He didn’t continue with this kind of prayer but he did receive his wish.
Now I do not pray for God to take away from me the thing I asked HIm for. I am glad that I have it so that I can participate in His suffering through my great love.
I do not pray for God to make me well… I pray for my soul, for God to forgive my transgressions. I am not taking medicines, nor did I go for surgery, not even for tests…. The grace of God sustains me. I try to give myself to Christ, to approach Christ and to be one with Christ…
We benefit greatly from our illnesses, as long as we endure them without complaint and glorify God, asking for His mercy…Often we do the opposite of this. Some even get angry at God for their sickness. Next time you you are sick, think about all that God gives you and how difficult it is for you to do all He expects of us. Try giving thanks to God for this time of humbling. Through your contrition and thankfulness, you will receive grace so His will can be done for you.
Reference: Wounded By Love, 224 - 231