My own experience is something like this. I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen and godless condition, absorbed in a merry meeting with my friends for the morrow or a bit of work that tickles my vanity today, a holiday or a new book, when suddenly a stab of abdominalpain that threatens serious disease or a headline in the newspapers that threatensus all with destruction, send this whole pack of cards tumbling down. At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my only real treasures is Christ. And perhaps, by God’s grace, I succeed, and for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing its strength form the right sources.I came to identify with that description quite profoundly this week. Monday morning I was blessed with a trip to the emergency room with kidney stones. To those who have not had the pleasure, it is impossible to put into words the pain this involves. To say that a “stab of abdominal pain” will send your “pack of cards tumbling down” is an understatement!
Earlier in that book, Lewis makes the well known comment that “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Now I understand that he is making somewhat philosophical arguments to deal with the “why do we suffer” issue. But I must say, God certainly got my attention Monday.
As to what He was trying to tell me, I’m not entirely sure. But let me say this. I am much more appreciative of my daily “normal” life without that kind of pain. I certainly did a lot of praying during that time. And I was never so thankful to know my future rests in the firm hands of Christ than during that time I literally felt like I was going to die (I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but folks, that is some kind of intense pain!).
Furthermore, I have gained a new appreciation for the suffering of others, knowing that as far as “disease” goes, there are much worse things than this. And my little “suffering” can’t compare with what others are going through. Hopefully I will be a much more compassionate person in the future.
On top of all that, it gave me a great sense of appreciation for my wife who, though suffering from a little flu bug herself, dragged herself out of bed and drove me 45 minutes (screaming and crying like a baby the whole way!) to the hospital and stayed with me the whole time. And further appreciation for the blessing of responsible children that we could leave at home to care for one another, without any concern.
And finally, it is indeed a not-so-subtle reminder that this life is not what it’s all about. Comfort and happiness in this life may be nice, but my “true good is in another world and my only real treasures is Christ.” So though I dread to ever endure anything like that again (though I’m told in all likelihood I will), I’m thankful to God that “for a day or two (I’ve) become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing its strength form the right sources.” May God not have to use that megaphone too often!