In suffering Francis felt especially close to Jesus. Not that he wanted to punish himself or that he took delight in pain, but in illness he saw a weakness that was strength. Because he was almost always sick, he felt weak and dependent on the Spirit for everything. He could not rely on his own strength, which was ever failing; the strength of Jesus was his only pride. Poverty, too, was like sickness. It forced you to rely on your heavenly Father instead of constantly providing for yourself.
—from the book Francis: The Journey and the Dream
by Murray Bodo, OFM