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The man whose disease made him happy

January 8, 2019

“Later that day I visited Sadan, another of Brand’s former patients. He looked like a miniature version of Gandhi: skinny, balding perched cross-legged on the edge of a bed. In a high-pitched, singsong voice, he told me wrenching stories of past rejection: the classmates who made fun of him in school, the driver who kicked him – literally, with his shoe – off a public bus, the many employers who refused to hire him despite his training and talent, the hospitals that turned him away.

“When I got to Vellore, I spent the night on the Brands’ verandah, because I had nowhere else to go,” said Sadan. “That was unheard of for a person with leprosy back then.  I can still remember when Dr. Brand took my infected ulcerated feet in his hands. I had been to many doctors. A few had examined my hands and feet from a distance, but Dr. Brand and his wife were the first medical workers who dared to touch me. I had nearly forgotten what human touch felt like.”

Sadan then recounted the elaborate sequence of medical procedures – tendon transfers, nerve strippings, toe amputations, and cataract removal – performed by Dr. Brand and his ophthalmologist wife. He spoke for half an hour. His past life was a catalogue of human suffering. But as we sipped our last cup of tea in his home, just before leaving to catch a plane to England, Sadan made this astonishing statement:

“Still, I must say that I am happy that I had this disease.”

“Happy?” I asked, incredulous.

“Yes,” replied Sadan.  “Apart from leprosy, I would have been a normal man with a normal family, chasing wealth and a higher position in society. I would never have known such wonderful people as Dr. Paul and Dr. Margaret, and I would never have known the God who lives in them.”

– Philip Yancey, Finding God in Unexpected Places

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. - Romans 5:3-5

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