In the Blink of an Eye. . .
In the blink of an eye, a robust twenty year-old patient of mine converts from drilling with a jack hammer to existing in a permanently vegetative state due to a bolt of lightning striking him. Fifteen years later, he is still comatose. In the blink of an eye, another twenty-year old patient flips a vegetative growth from his aortic heart valve to his brain, triggering an embolic stroke. He will never walk or speak normally again.
Another promising young man is pummeled by a train, never to wake up. And a favorite aunt is killed in a freak car accident caused by a drunk driver.
As Christians, we love stories of miracles and answered prayers. Stories about teens left comatose and senseless deaths make us uncomfortable. The unanswered questions of why God doesn't intervene and prevent such tragedies challenge our faith.
Some tragedies we can blame on poor choices: drinking and driving, smoking or drug abuse, not wearing seat belts, or not seeking shelter during a lightning storm. We console ourselves that we would never make such poor choices. Our sense of control is thus restored.
But what about a patient of mine, a much-loved mother and wife, who dies of leukemia through no fault of her own? Why her and not me? Why must her two little girls be left without a mother, while mine are blessed with two loving parents? And what about my young patient who is brutally gang raped?
I hate these cases as they make me ask, "How could a loving God just stand by and do nothing? Why does He miraculously heal one mother with leukemia, but let the next one die? I understand that allowing free will in mankind comes with a price, but what about the raped teenager's free will? Bad events can seem so arbitrary and unfair. We would all prefer that "nice" people be spared tragedy and that evil people "get their due." But it doesn't work that way. The Bible says God loves us all and that the sun and rain fall on the good and evil alike. Because unlike us, God's love is unconditional.
As a physician, I've had to grapple with tragedies in the lives of my patients. I must confess my faith can be rattled at times because God doesn't run this planet the way I think He should! Why doesn't He intervene and rescue people more? If He's all-powerful, how can He just sit on His throne doing nothing when one of His children is facing calamity, especially if it's not his or her fault! Troublesome questions, indeed. God doesn't fit into a tidy little box.
But it all boils down to this: Do I trust you, God? Even when I don't understand why. Even when it isn't fair. Even when the results are dreadful or seem like You just don't care?
My answer is yes. Why? I see God's power and attention to detail in creation and nature, so I know He's not clueless or incapable. He must have a higher purpose I don't understand. God can use even the worst tragedies for good, IF we choose to surrender everything to HIm and ask Him to use our circumstances, no matter how tragic, for some earthly benefit or God's glory. As humans, we don't have the perspective of heaven or all-eternity. It says in the Bible our lives are like a mere puff of smoke. That is the perspective that I, as a mere human physician, don't have. But He is the Great Physician. Thus, I don't have to understand Him to trust Him.
Do I trust You, God? Most of the time I do. Please help me when I don't.