I recently received a FaceBook inbox message from a 22 year-old man who is scheduled to have open heart surgery. He had read FaceBook posts a year ago about my surgery and was seeking advice as he faces the need to have this traumatic procedure himself. This reminded me once again of how unfair life can be. I thought I was too young at age 56 to have such a surgery, especially when I had consciously tried so hard to make healthy lifestyle choices for over 40 years. But a 22 year-old needing this surgery? Of course there are much worse atrocities occurring around the world every day that are completely unfair than people who need heart surgery. But my friend’s question about his need for surgery once again reminded me on a personal level just how unfair life can be.
As I reflected on my experience of a year ago, I was somewhat surprised that I actually see it in a positive light. Though I would not wish this procedure on anyone, and I do not desire to repeat it, I found it to be a transformational experience. It was the first time I had ever taken an extended leave of absence from the daily routine of life. I felt compelled to focus all my energies on healing. My belief that health is more than physical was confirmed during the process as I found the emotional and spiritual components of life to be vital in my recovery. I found my walk with God grew stronger and more personal. And so I could reassure my FaceBook friend that this unfair situation can have amazingly positive results in his life. I counseled him to follow every instruction given by his doctors, nurses, and physical therapists. But that’s not enough. I told him to take the opportunity to focus on God’s presence and the richness of the abundant life He offers. There is something about facing our mortality that brings eternal things into sharper focus. I have never been more acutely aware of the love and support around me than during the time surrounding my open heart surgery. And so in the most unfair of circumstance my friend faces as the tender age of 22, he has an unique opportunity to grow spiritually, emotionally, and even physically.
I don’t understand why life is so unfair. But I do know that God is always present. And so when life is unfair, perhaps especially when life is unfair, we can choose to experience the presence of God. Paul says it like this in one in of my favorite Bible passages found in Romans 8:38-39… “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When life is unfair, I draw the line with God in total commitment to His will.