I was reading excerpts from some of C.S. Lewis' writings this morning. As some of you may know, Lewis lost his wife, Joy, and wrote about it extensively. As always with Lewis, his thoughts are deep, raw, and honest. Lewis talked about Joy and described her much as I would describe Gail. She, “was a splendid thing; a soul straight, bright, and tempered like a sword.” He was so in love with her and often wrote long, beautiful descriptions of her character and beauty. But in this particular writing he goes on to write something profound. Speaking of Joy, he writes; “But not a perfected saint. A sinful woman married to a sinful man; two of God’s patients, not yet cured.”
“Two of God’s patients, not yet cured.” To many people right now, Gail is described as their “patient.” The dictionary describes “patient” as someone receiving medical treatment. Gail is receiving medical treatment from many people, and of course, this is because something is terribly wrong inside of her. As beautiful and winsome she is on the outside, there is something deadly inside her. She needs treatment.
Lewis goes on to make a powerful analogy about both he and his wife: they were both “God’s patients.” I am reminded that both Gail and I suffer the same illness, sin. This disease is more deadly than any cancer. We need treatment, and God has checked us in to His hospital. We are His patients. We have a disease and Jesus is the only cure. Jesus has administered His cure to both of our lives, and though we have not yet received all of the benefits of the cure, we are well on our way. It is good to be a patient of God.
It seems to me that we are all God’s patients, and no matter how messy our physical reality becomes at times, there is a much deeper reality that we cannot allow ourselves to forget. Some folks – Christians - get so wrapped up in the “patient’s” physical well-being that they fail to recognize, and be fulfilled by, the work God is doing with His patients on a much deeper level. This is the only way such declarations like the ones Jesus half-brother, James, wrote make any sense. “2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NLT) God’s patients endure physical troubles knowing that His deeper work is growing in them. In the end, all of His patients are made “perfect and complete.”
“Patient” comes from a Latin word. It means, “suffering.” I hate this stark reality, but it is reality none the less. I am so glad my wife is God’s patient, for I know that He creates deep goodness from every crummy situation. His patients all leave the hospital “perfect and complete.”