C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pains: It is his megaphone to a deaf world.”
Traumatic interruptions in our lives, like cancer or other illnesses, economic reversals, suffering and death of loved ones, abandonment and divorce—name the struggle—these can be doorways to greater understanding and growth when we allow our devastation to be turned to education by God. When I found myself flat on my face before God because I had been dealt a blow which had knocked me flat, I realized there is no One else to go to but God. I cried out to Him, humbled my heart before Him and an amazing thing happened. The whole tenor of my experience began to change from despair to hope by letting God teach me, comfort me and draw me to Himself.
” It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn your statutes.” (Psalm 119: 71)
From other women cancer survivors I heard comments to the effect that when they were diagnosed with cancer they were devastated; it was the hardest time of their lives. Cancer caused them to cry out to God in their desperation and fear; they were thrown onto God as never before and they found He was there for them. Things in life they had previously taken for granted suddenly took on new, deeper meaning. Looking back, they were actually glad for the experience—a shocking thought—because they now had a closer walk with the Lord, one which they felt they might not have had apart from going through that time of suffering. To them, this experience was worth the pain and suffering to be closer to God. That should give us pause (God’s megaphone?).
I have heard similar comments from people who have gone through other types of trials as well; there are many kinds of suffering in the world, not just physical.
Marj, a friend of mine, relates that she and her husband were happily married for many years, and since they had no children, their world revolved around the two of them. As she puts it, “It was Bill, God and me.” Then Bill was diagnosed with cancer. They bravely fought it together, Marj by Bill’s side through it all, and as Christians they trusted God to bring Bill’s healing. But it didn’t come. My friend lost the love of her life. She was cast upon the Lord—alone. Four years later Marj says, “You know, it used to be Bill, God and me. Now I look up and say, ‘Sorry Bill, God’s first now, he’s taken over your place.'” You know, I think Bill is in heaven smiling. Marj grew in her relationship with God when she had nowhere else to go for comfort and strength in her grief, and He was there.
These times of trial can be opportunities for us to turn to God and reach out to Him as never before. Those who do, as I did, as Marj did, find grace for the difficulties; strength, comfort and God’s presence with us through the dark valleys.