1 Thessalonians 5:18 (New International Version)
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
One of Canada's most famous physicians was Dr. William Osler. Many stories are told of Dr. Osler, but one of the most revealing comes from World War I.
Friends recalled the day when he was working in one of Britain's military hospitals during the war. He was called out of the wards during his daily rounds to be given an important message; his own son had been killed on the fields of France.
Stunned by the news, he still came back to pick up his rounds. For a long period afterward he was noticeably different. And those who knew him best said that he changed as a physician that day. The cheerful note was gone from his voice and never again did friends hear the tune which he so often whistled as he went from ward to ward.
Though these things never returned, something eventually came to take their place. Everyone noticed a new compassion in his care of the soldiers who each day streamed in from the battlefield. Before, he had the professional concern of the physician, so important to the practice of medicine; now there was an added discernable note of a personal compassion, like that of a father for his son....
Osler was understandably hurt and, like most people who have experienced such losses, he likely became angry. In time, after working through pain and anger, he found a way to integrate the loss into his life. Though he was never the same, he chose not to let his son's death turn him into a bitter and resentful man. Instead, he channeled it into energy and love for others, caring for them as he would care for his own.
Helen Keller wisely said, "The struggle of life is one of our greatest blessings. It makes us patient, sensitive, and Godlike. It teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it."
Osler teaches us something about overcoming suffering. It can leave us bitter, or quite surprisingly, it can often leave us better. More patient. More sensitive. More compassionate. And a little more like how God must surely be.
Dear Lord we pray that the circumstances in life would help make us better people. We pray that we would be sensitive to those around us and care for them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.