What the Heck?

October 15, 2019

“…But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8, NIV 1984).

I had just heard that his son was in the intensive care unit and wondered why he had not called me. When I got him on the phone, he explained his son’s illness. All the while I was thinking of his wife, who had just come through difficult treatment for cancer, and his daughter, who had recently died after delivering her first child. He and I are close, and he explained his lack of communication. “I was just so worn out,” he said. “I told God this time, ‘I’m not going to let go of you, God. I know you’ve got this.’ But all the time in the back of my mind I was saying, ‘What the heck?’”

I’ve quoted one of my doctor friends before, “When Jesus said, ‘In this world you will have tribulation,’ He expected us to tribulate.” Some of us tribulate so very much more than others, like my dear friend here.

The world’s distribution of suffering is certainly not based on fairness. If we ever thought that, we need to get over it. The world’s distribution of suffering can certainly not be based on reason, like, “I know why that guy is suffering and this girl is not.” Our minds are not that big. The world’s distribution of suffering is not about reason and not about justice.

When we try to sort out why some people suffer so much and others so little, my friend gets as close to the truth as anyone, “What the heck?” That’s about as far as our minds and hearts can go.

But there are questions we can answer about suffering, like:

“Will I suffer with God at my side, or without Him?”
“Will I use this suffering for the God’s glory and the good of mankind, or not?”

Someday, we will find answers to the causes and distribution of suffering.

Once we are on the eternal side of glory, when it no longer matters, it will all be clear.

The questions of how we deal with it are for now. 

Dear Father,
When it is my time to suffer, help me ask the right questions.

Al Weir, MD

Al Weir, MD

After leaving academic medicine, Dr. Weir served in private practice at the West Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee from 1991-2005 before joining the CMDA staff as Vice President of Campus & Community Ministries where he served for three years from 2005-2008. He is presently Professor of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Program Director for the Hematology/Oncology fellowship program. He is also President of Albanian Health Fund, an educational ministry to Albania where he has been serving for 20 years. He is the author of two books: When Your Doctor Has Bad News and Practice by the Book. Dr. Weir’s work has also been published in many medical journals and other publications. Al and his wife Becky live in Memphis, Tennessee, and they have three children and three grandchildren. Dr. Weir is currently serving on CMDA's Board of Trustees.