Way back in those hospital days, a wonderful very short essay was among some literature that the hospital gave me about brain injuries. I’ve long since lost the essay, most likely in one of my many moves back and forth across the country from Utah to Virginia to Utah to Virginia. But I’ve never forgotten the essay’s final line – They haven’t wasted their pain – nor the name of the doctor who wrote it – the late Howard A. Rusk (1901-1989) who’s considered the father of rehabilitative medicine. On the miraculous Internet I googled that line and his name, and found the complete essay on this i believe website, and found him also on Wikipedia. I wish I had known him personally. He wrote:
Sick people throughout the world ask their God, “Why must I suffer?” Possibly the answer comes in the work of the potter. Great ceramics are not made by putting clay in the sun; they come only from the white heat of the kiln. In the firing process, some pieces are broken, but those that survive the heat are transformed from clay into objects of art, and so it is, it seems to me, with sick, suffering, and crippled people. Those who, through medical skill, opportunity, work and courage, survive their illness or overcome their handicap and take their places back in the world, have a depth of spirit that you and I can hardly measure. They haven’t wasted their pain.
I would add: Those who through faith in a God who suffered the ultimate for us, in whom I believe is the source of all the miracles I’ve experienced in my life and whom my daughter Jen knows intimately. A God who knows each of us. Who knows the journey won’t be easy, that hard work and courage indeed are required for the sick, the suffering, the crippled and those who serve them. The road’s often long and hazardous, but great are the rewards. For me, paramount are knowledge and empathy that I couldn’t have learned any other way than through crucial experience. For this I thank an empathetic God, as well as family and friends, His human angels who were and still are His helping hands.