It was a night in the ER like no other that rocked my fledgling faith to its very core.
As a surgeon in training, I had experienced my fair share of heartache and tragedy. However, I was largely a casual Christian, my belief system more shaped by general sentimentality than grounded in biblical truth. That night, as paramedics rushed in three young men who were on the edge of life and death, my fragile faith began to crumble.
The scenes from that night were gut-wrenching. The terrified look of a four-year-old boy who had just witnessed his father beaten, the frantic efforts to save a stabbed teenager, and the anguished silence that followed a gunshot wound to the head. Each fight ended in a loss, and I stood there, feeling as if I was staring into the abyss of human suffering.
The next morning, driven by a desperate need for solace and understanding, I found myself standing at a bridge overlooking the Connecticut River. Tears streamed down my face as I tried to pray, but the images of the night were unrelenting. It felt like every part of me was questioning, wrestling with the age-old question: How could a loving God allow such pain?
In that moment, I decided that God must not exist. As I walked back to my car, it felt like I was leaving my faith behind on that bridge.
But it was in the midst of this profound pain that God, in His infinite wisdom, drew me closer. My suffering, the catalyst that had shattered my brittle faith, became the tool through which God called me to Himself.
In our human experience, we all grapple with what C.S. Lewis terms as “the problem of pain.” How can a loving and omnipotent God allow such suffering in the world He created? C.S. Lewis, no stranger to suffering himself, wrote an entire book addressing this very question, “The Problem of Pain.”
In his exploration, Lewis argued that pain and suffering were not anomalies but were a part of the human condition, a consequence of our rebellion against a good and holy God. Furthermore, he proposed that God works through pain for our ultimate good. Pain, Lewis suggested, was God’s megaphone to get our attention, a necessary corrective to mold us into the image of Christ.
As Lewis explains, we often become complacent, turning our backs on God and creating idols out of our own desires. However, through the ‘megaphone’ of pain, God wakes us from this spiritual slumber, prodding us to recognize our need for Him. In fact, pain and suffering can act as catalysts for us to seek our true happiness in God and His abundant grace, rather than our own self-sufficiency.
In the darkness of my despair, God used my pain to draw me back to Him. I remember witnessing a miraculous recovery in the ICU, which shook me to my core. It was as if God was reaching out to me in the midst of my suffering. This experience led me to open the Bible for the first time and immerse myself in His Word. As I read Romans 5:1-9, I found myself weeping as I grasped the profound message of God’s love in our suffering.
In essence, pain and suffering, rather than contradicting God’s love, are tools through which He strengthens us and instills us with hope. God uses our trials to refine us, to wake us up to our desperate need for Him, and to guide us on the right path. This transformative journey through pain brought me to the realization that our Savior, too, has suffered. Jesus understands our pain and offers us comfort and solace, easing our burdens and providing rest for our weary souls.
Looking back, I see that it was in the midst of my deepest pain that I found my path to a deeper faith. My agonizing journey brought me closer to God’s grace and allowed me to understand the depth of His love for us. Even in the face of suffering and despair, we can find comfort in the knowledge that our Savior shares in our agony, offering us the hope and strength to carry on.