Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsWednesday 30 Sep 2020Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 3 minutes
I like the story of David, aged two. David had a significant health struggle. He had leukaemia. So his mother Deborah had to take her boy to see Dr John Truman at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.
Dr Truman specialises in treating children with cancer and other blood diseases. He had a difficult job that day as David and his mother sat down in his surgery. His prognosis was especially devastating: “I’m sorry, but he has a 50-50 chance of survival”.
It was terrible news for a loving mother to hear about her two-year-old son. She knew what was ahead: blood tests, intravenous drugs, and the fear of pain for her boy. David never cried or said anything that day. He was cheerful, facing the pain of a spinal-tap procedure. The doctor lovingly explained that to make him better, he had to hurt him.
So his mother said, “If it hurts, remember it’s because he loves you and wants you to be well again”. It was a terrible procedure. It took three nurses to hold the little boy still, while he yelled, sobbed and struggled. When it was almost over, the tiny boy looked up at the doctor and said, “Thank you, Doctor Truman, for my hurting”.
We Cannot Escape Hurt
In so many ways, here is a profound truth. If you have had pain—physical, mental or emotional—lately, have you been able to cry out to God Thank you God for my hurting? Is it possible to ever get to that point in our lives when we can thank him for the hurts in life? How is it ever possible?
The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time …” Wow! What an incredible statement—but is it really true? You may be thinking—that’s a bit melodramatic. There are two types of people in the world. Those who have been hurt, and those who will be hurt. We can’t escape it. Neither can we avoid it. At some time or another, we’ll all get hurt and pain will be ours. Surely no-one likes to experience pain?
Dr Paul Brand, who died in 2003, was noted for solving a lot of the mystery surrounding leprosy when little was known about it. He gave hope to the millions of those who suffered this terrible disease. One night he had a frightening experience. He thought he had contracted leprosy. Dr Brand had travelled from the US to London by ship followed by a long train ride from the English coast. He was getting ready for bed, had taken off his shoes, and as he pulled off a sock, discovered there was no feeling in his heel.
Most people wouldn’t worry too much about this kind of thing—just a momentary numbness. But Dr Brand was world-famous for his work with leprosy and had convinced himself and his staff that there was no danger of infection from leprosy after it reached a certain stage. The numbness in his heel terrified him.
Thanking God for Your Hurt
In her biography of Dr Brand, Ten Fingers For God, Dorothy Clarke Wilson says:
He rose mechanically, found a pin, sat down again,me and pricked the small area below his ankle. He felt no pain. He thrust the pin deeper, until a speck of blood showed. Still he felt nothing.
All that night he tried to imagine his life as a leper, an outcast, his medical staff’s confidence in their immunity shattered. Then there was the forced separation from his family. As morning approached he did the same test he had done the night before. He bared the skin below his ankle, jabbed in the needle and yelled.
Never had the sensation of pain felt so good! He realised that during the long train journey, sitting immobile, he had numbed a nerve. From then on, whenever Dr Brand cut his finger, twisted his ankle, even when he suffered from agonising nausea as his whole body reacted violently to mushroom poisoning, he responded with fervent gratitude, “Thank God for pain!”
So we can say, we can think through, Thank you for the hurting. It does take a lot of courage. We can pray that we would be those people who, even in the darkest hour, we can look through that and see that the pain we’re experiencing has something good from God.
(To be continued in Thanks for the Hurting – Part 2)