When Bruce Wilson’s severe heart attack was misdiagnosed, he required life-saving surgery, which left him permanently physically diminished. While he was hovering between life and death, and during his long recovery, he had to call upon a deep well of Faith. But he also learned a lot about himself and God through his ordeal.
Bruce is a sociologist, theologian and Anglican Bishop, best-known for his 80s best-seller “Can God Survive in Australia”? His new book’s title, “Bless You Heart Attack for Being in My Life”, is equally challenging. At the start of his conversation with 20Twenty’s Neil Johnson, he was quick to remind us that many others have suffered worse than him.
“I say right at the beginning of the book that it’s not my purpose to focus morbidly or self-indulgently on life-threatening illness, but it’s rather to explore what happens to a person, particularly a spiritual person, a Christian person, as you come to grips with quite unexpected and really difficult things going wrong in your life.”
As Christians, Bruce knows we’re not exempt from suffering. But in his frequent hospital visits, he’s met many people who barely think about the life-threatening experiences they’ve endured. “If the Lord suffers for us, and we suffer ourselves, surely we’ve got to ask the question, what’s happening to me? Whether the suffering is physical or whether it’s social, like a broken marriage for example, or a suicide in the family, what has God got to say to me in these circumstances?”
Of course, theologically it’s not appropriate to bless a heart attack, but that’s not what Bruce is doing. His title was inspired by the Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. “He was imprisoned for his challenges to atheistic Marxism in Russia, through his many wonderful novels.”
“Bless you, prison,” he wrote. “Bless you for being in my life. For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw, I came to realise that the object of life is not prosperity, as we are made to believe, but the maturity of the human soul.”
What do you do when you’re in such severe pain you’re certain you’re about to die? How can you get a good night’s sleep when you’ve just been told your heart is barely holding together, and you only have a 50/50 chance of surviving surgery in the morning? Listen to Bruce Wilson’s conversation with Neil Johnson for much more insight into the soul-maturing lessons learned through his period of suffering.
Tune into 20Twenty and join the conversation with Neil Johnson, weekdays on Vision Christian Radio. Click here for your local times.