And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart… Ezekiel 11:19
I had a friend in college who became an atheist my freshman year. He was a junior chemistry major desiring to be admitted to medical school. He was taking a challenging course called “P Chem” (Physical Chemistry). But he became more concerned with the metaphysical world as he wrote a 400 page paper for himself on the existence of God that quarter. He would come to my dorm room in the evening and we would discuss the issues of God’s existence into the early morning hours. And though I defended my belief in God, he had an influence on me as I too doubted the very existence of God 5 years later.
The reason I rejected God is that I wanted to be intellectually honest. I struggled with the idea of being objective and how I could know the truth. I saw science as objectively seeking truth and I didn’t know what to do with faith. So I lived without faith in God for most of my time in medical school and my entire OBGYN residency training. I was so busy that it didn’t make much of a difference in how I lived, or at least I didn’t think so. Not, at least, until I graduated from residency and became a staff physician at the hospital in Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines.
During this time I realized the practice of medicine was not simply the application of science in the lives of human beings. There were nurses, technicians, and other doctors with whom I needed to interact on a personal basis. How I treated them actually affected how we were able to treat the patient and her medical condition. I found that compassion, love, forgiveness, respect, listening, caring, and empathizing were necessary components in the healing process. But these were components of healing that came from faith, not science. This is when I began my journey to understand the role of faith in my life. This is when I realized that such necessary components resided in my heart.
The problem was that I had developed a stony heart. I could make a nurse cry in a heartbeat and feel completely justified in doing so in the name of science. After all, anyone who did not do exactly as I ordered was getting in the way of the healing principles of science. But when the heart of the “healer” is hardened, the “healer” tends to wound the hearts of those around him causing more damage than his application of scientific principles can repair.
Science makes the world a better place. Science saves lives. Science enhances our existence on this earth and helps us understand how things work. But it is faith that brings love, compassion, justice, and peace into our world and into our lives. Science may make life easier to live, but it is faith that makes life worth living. In Subic Bay I discovered that I could not prove the existence of God. But He proved His existence to me by changing my heart, which is where faith resides.
I still struggle with the remnants of a stony heart. There are too many days when I want my own way and my heart begins to harden. But I can feel it and see it in my interactions with others. And when I give my heart to Him, He always softens it through His Word, through the words of others, through circumstances of life, and through a growing self-awareness that comes as I focus on Him. I have found the heart to be ground zero in the battle for life and healing. I exhort you to put your faith in God. Allow Him to soften it. But I must warn you that such faith will change your heart and change your life.