Some Thoughts on Trials

This afternoon brought a trip to the oncologist to get the results from my older son’s recent MRIs and labs. And the report was a good one: his tumors are stable and, for now, all is well. We’ll take it.

But something interesting happened during this visit. We took a different elevator today that dropped us off in an area we’ve not seen before. The entire hallway was lined with these hand-painted tiles — all by patients. We lingered at the wall for a while, taking in the messages. Many were uplifting and happy, some were heartbreaking, a few were funny.

But I think what struck me most of all was how spiritual they were. I was surprised on many levels, for many reasons. The first reason was based on past experience with this particular facility. Around Christmas, I’d sadly mused about the fact that they didn’t decorate for Christmas. It was harsh and joyless, with no evidence of God in sight. But today, here in this particular hall, you could actually feel God.

Which is another reason for my surprise. When illness or hardships come, it’s not unheard of to have some not-so-great feelings about God. To feel abandoned, punished, or even doubtful of God’s existence.

So I thought, anyway.

But if this wall shows anything, it’s that facing the end of our lives actually draws us closer to God. This realization actually blew my mind for a second. Wait a minute…sickness can actually be a blessing? God really is good all the time. All the time. Even when we’re sick. Especially when we’re sick. Are we ever in more contact with or aware of God than when a crisis comes? Or are we ever more poised to encounter miracles? It’s the first time in my life that I actually understood the verse: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

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I won’t complain about this place’s lack of Christmas poinsettias ever again.

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