Written by Beka Ermel
As a nurse, I’ve had the privilege of seeing God work in some of the worst circumstances. As a paediatric nurse, I am repeatedly asked the same question: isn’t it sad? How do you deal with seeing so many sick children? The answer is yes, it’s sad, but turning my attention to God has helped me see these experiences from a much different perspective. This new outlook has come through meeting families in the hospital—families who find faith in Christ through the sickness and death of a child; families who view their child’s disability as a blessing, and couldn’t imagine their lives any other way; families supporting other families in the hospital even amidst their own tragedies. These families have needed to confront the inexplicable situations of life head-on, and gained newfound strength and maturity through them.
Ray’s story is one of those examples of a family who have been through much hardship and yet emerged with a strength, hope, and peace that only God can provide. Their experience illustrates that, yes, this world is filled with the unpredictable and ugly, but God never meant for us to walk through it alone.
I didn’t know Ray before his accident, but I’ve learned that Ray was a typical teenage boy who could be found playing basketball on most days, or else spending time with family and friends. On March 25th 2017, his life dramatically changed after he suffered a sudden heart attack during one of his basketball games. He was rushed to the hospital and stayed in ICU for several months, unable to breathe on his own for many weeks. A friend told me that Ray was staying in the same hospital where I worked, in case I wanted to visit.
I was hoping to offer the family some kind of support, but soon realized they were fully equipped with one of the biggest support systems I’ve ever seen. Family and friends overfilled the ICU waiting room while Ray’s mom set up camp in a corner where she slept on couches every night to be closer to Ray. Ray’s friends would come visit every night after school and it became their regular hangout spot where they’d play video games in the waiting room until visiting hours ended. There was a whole army of people supporting and praying for Ray, and I couldn’t believe how much love was being poured out as a result of this tragic event.
Ray’s Mother, Suzette, explains “It’s made me so happy to call Ray my son. He has brought some amazing, caring people into my life that has been my strength and support.” Suzette talks about how her relationship with God deepened because of what happened—but it was a process and continues to be a journey of growth and learning. She reminisces on how, at first, she was angry and blamed God for what happened. She admits she lost her faith for a time, and had to dig deep to find it again. In working through her doubts, she began to see ways in which God was working through the pain.
God gave her a new perspective on life and taught her to appreciate and value life in a new way. She describes God having her “check” herself, and make changes she would’ve never made before the incident. Her hope in God has allowed her to be an incredible source of joy for other families going through similar experiences, and she has also put healthcare professionals in awe of her strength and profound positivity. Although Ray is still working towards being able to walk and talk again, Suzette finds comfort in knowing that God is walking with them through it all. Ray’s story is still not finished, nor is God’s redemption and reconciliation of the world.
I’m so grateful to meet people like Ray’s family and learn from their story. Even through my own wrestling, doubts, tears, and questioning, I have come to the conclusion that God is good and he cares; His intention is not to leave this world in the broken state it’s in, but to redeem it through His son Jesus. In His word, He explains that this suffering is but a moment in comparison to the joy we will experience being with Him one day; “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18.
A short article is not enough to expand on the ways in which God walks with us and overcomes the suffering we see every day, but I can testify that faith in Him is worth fighting for. It’s not an easy walk, but it’s worth every step when our eyes are fixed on a hope that brings us to true freedom.