Is There Something To Be Learned from Your Suffering?

Complimentary Story
     I have been a practicing doctor for over 40 years, and my training in science and academic medicine spanned more than 14 years before going into practice. In my years of working with people who are ill and suffering, physically, but also emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually, I have worked with over 20,000 patients which gives me enough experience to understand anyone who seeks our help and requests our services.

   Since my early life, I have been a Christian and tried to conduct my professional life and my personal life in alignment with those biblical principles which are as Christians deeply revere and respect. Actually, thats one of the very reasons why people seek us out from other practitioners, not just because of my comprehensive training in both traditional and alternative medicine, but because everything we do, we do in alignment with biblical principles, and many people are looking for a health care provider who understands not only their physical problems, but who knows the value and comfort of spiritual support, especially during a health crisis.

   Often I have wondered about suffering and why some people who are at best marginal in their faithfulness to biblical principles seem to get through tough times with minimal pain or inconvenience, while those who are deeply committed to practicing their faith in very real ways suffer tremendously.

   As we read often in Scripture, Gods ways are not our ways, His knowledge is far above, ours is far below, but He has given us a mind to think with, and the powers of observation, inquiry and discernment, and critical thinking, and it is only natural for us to wonder, from time to time, what is the purpose of suffering.

   I have worked with patients of all ages for a very wide variety of health concerns, from temporary minor problems to potentially terminal, life-threatening illnesses and injuries. Part of my training I loved a lot was working in the ER (emergency room). There it is immediate need for serious problems, no time for politely discussing non-essential issues; focus only on the problem and the solution. But in a crisis, a doctor has a chance to examine both his/her own beliefs and values but also to compare and contrast them to those of his fellow health care providers (other doctors and nurses), as well as to the patient who is under care.

   More than once, in fact many times over the years, I have been struck and humbled by the courage and strength of people who were strangers to me until they came for help with serious health problems, but who were of such a character and whose nature was oozing with inner strength and wisdom.

   Sooner or later, our conversations always turned to suffering and pondering what it meant. It is, to be certain, part of the mystery of life, especially when we pray and pray and ask for Gods mercy, and yet the pain and suffering continues. Not only when working with patients, but also in my own trials with health issues, I have questioned this.

   Just the other day I was discussing this with a friend, in the context of Easter and of those who doubted the death and resurrection of Christ. I got a good lesson that day. I had always believed that those who question faith and spiritual truths were somehow lesser people, not as smart or not as faith-filled, as they should be. I was wrong. This other person had much greater insight than I did, but I learned from her. She said that doubt can be a very important and positive event because many people of professed faith have never had their faith really tested in tough times, and so were in perfect agreement with biblical principles, but when a person is suffering and expresses doubt and wants to understand the deeper meaning of suffering, the doubt and questioning mean you have moved beyond the profession of faith to a deeper, more meaningful and more critical stage of personal conviction, where you yourself are the focus of the pain, and you, yourself, have to figure things out, evaluate yourself and your life honesty, cleanly, clearly, and with humility. AMEN to that! Amen to that, my sisters and brothers in Christ.

   Christ was Divine and human at the same time. HE as the Christ, was spiritual in nature and of great power, while He the human man of suffering was small and preparing for a hideous death. Why? Because it was what God the Father knew was necessary, and what was ultimately best for Jesus. If Jesus had been spared, He would have lived a long life of ministry and would have preached the word to thousands, but in order for Him to become The Word, He needed to suffer, to be humbled before God the Father, and to submit Himself to Gods will and wisdom.

   God uses broken things: It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to yield rain, broken grain to give bread, and broken bread to strength. It was the broken alabaster box that gave forth perfume, and it was Peter, weeping bitterly, who returned to greater power through Christ. If we remain unbroken, we remain closed, closed from God, closed from Scripture - only when we are opened and broken do we submit to the higher Will of God, and only then will we ever find Grace, Mercy, Forgiveness, and Salvation, only then.

   Suffering, like healing, like life -- all mysteries, but if we are saved in Christ, if our hearts are united with and indwelled by His Holy Presence, then we know without fear or doubt that, whether we see it, feel it, or understand it, HE is with us closer than hands and feet during our suffering, and it will not be for naught because of Him who is with us.

   My best work is to love and to have compassion for our people, suffering in physical, or emotional or psychological or spiritual ways, and to remember my own suffering which has made me quieter, more reflective, less anxious, and more in line with the principles taught by Christ. Because I have suffered like them, I can identify with them more closely, and they can feel in me and in my words and my work, a deeper appreciation and understanding of their pain and fear.

   No one wants a friend or especially a doctor who is cold, distant, unfeeling, unable or unwilling to feel their pain - passion and compassion are two parts of a caring heart and as I reach out to others in pain and in need, I am myself uplifted and blessed. What could be better than that?

   My God truly hold you in His hand, close to His heart, and love you more than you ever know you could or would be loved.  That is also what healing is about.

Naturopathic and European
Medicine Centre
James R. Bowman, ND, DNHC, DCP,
FAAIM & Staff
2926 Post Road, Suite C
Stevens Point, WI. 54481
Tel:  715.341.4949

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