During our earthly pilgrimage, we all have an innate longing to be home with God our Father, Who created us to be with Him for eternity, in joy and peace.
I recently experienced a few unexpected days in a public hospital, following a routine medical procedure. A spike in my temperature later that day led to a visit to emergency, and subsequent admission to a ward for observation.
After a five-hour wait, I was wheeled on a bed to the ward and settled down to sleep. Sleep did not come easily that night as one of the patients in my room, talked loudly in his sleep. It seemed like I’d not been asleep for long before I was gently woken by a nurse at 4am.
She wrapped my upper arm in a blood pressure cuff, placed a clamp on my index finger to measure oxygen saturation in my blood, and stuck a device in my ear to take my temperature, the regular four-hourly obs (observations)!
I got off to sleep again and awoke the next morning to take stock of my surroundings. The small ward had four beds, each enclosed by curtains. Later, I was to discover who my fellow patients were.
My Fellow Patients
Next to me was an elderly Vietnamese man I will name Trang who never left his bed, and had to be spoon-fed his meals. I only heard him speak two phrases in English, “I want to go home” and “Thank you”.
Diagonally opposite me was another elderly man named Stefan. He was Croatian and very deaf. Whenever he spoke in person or on a mobile phone call, he was very loud. Nurses had to raise their voices when communicating with him.
Both he and his wife were living in a nursing home. His wife was suffering from a form of early dementia, and the separation from each other was very painful for them.
Directly opposite me was an Aussie woman named Janelle. Doctors were having difficulty diagnosing why her heart function and blood pressure were fluctuating so. She had been away from her three children now for nine days and was understandably anxious to get home.
She was finally discharged after her cardiac specialist brought her the good news that her condition was not what they had first thought.
Her bed was refilled by Claire, a young woman profoundly disabled by cerebral palsy. Her only communication was groans and cries as she seemed to struggle for every breath she took.
Helpless and Distressed
One day stretched into another. The doctors were concerned that I may have contracted sepsis, an infection of my blood. They wanted me to stay for at least 48 hours, to ensure that the blood cultures they had taken from me showed negative results.
On the third day, I was feeling well in myself. No infections had been detected in my body but I found myself becoming increasingly overwhelmed by the suffering of those around me.
In my past hospital experiences, God had given me many opportunities to share Jesus with fellow patients, but this time it was so different. I could only pray for those ‘confined’ with me in this ward.
It is such a helpless feeling to be faced with human suffering that you can’t do anything about. I considered the condition and needs of those near me.
There was Trang, unable to do anything for himself, “trapped” in his own body, who just wanted to go home.
Then Stefan, who cried often over being separated from his beloved wife, unable to be with her to comfort her.
Claire had been in real distress this morning as nurses tried to clear her clogged airways with a suction tube. By this stage, I was feeling quite miserable. I wasn’t without faith but I was experiencing anguish over the broken condition of humanity, and cried softly to myself, praying that all would know the saving work of Christ in their lives.
After all this distress, a light unexpectedly broke through the darkness I was sensing. Claire’s father came to be with her. He stood at her bedside, and I heard him speak the following words:
“Daddy’s here. It’s all right.”
The oppressive atmosphere of suffering in the room suddenly lifted. From being in a state of distress, I now heard different sounds coming from Claire’s throat. She began to coo and I almost perceived laughter in her vocal noises. Even her father asked her, “Are you laughing at me, Claire?” I couldn’t believe the change in her. Daddy was with her and everything would be all right!
Wonderful Truths about God
God was showing me some wonderful truths.
Like Trang, we all have an inbuilt need to go “home”, but it’s not our physical bricks-and-mortar home. Our true home is to be with our Father and for Him to make His home with us.
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:23)
Stefan felt the pain of separation from his beloved, but this is only a reminder of the more profound separation that exists deep within us. God felt the separation between Himself and fallen, broken humanity. Rather than being overwhelmed, He did something about it.
He sent His Son Jesus to experience this for Himself. Through his death for us and His resurrection, Jesus destroyed this separation forever, and has brought us into an eternal union with our Heavenly Father.
For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Rom 5:10)
Dear Claire reminds us through her disability, that we are all helpless to save ourselves. We are completely reliant upon God to do the work of salvation for us and in us. All of us need to rely fully on God’s grace and mercy every day of our lives.
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Finally, Claire’s father reflected the voice of our Creator in these gentle words,
“Daddy’s here. It’s all right.”
If Claire in her physical condition could be calmed and given delight by the words of her daddy, how much more, when we listen to Father God speak His words to us, we will experience whatever trauma, distress or suffering we may have lifted off us, to be replaced instead with His love, joy and peace.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
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