After doctors, nurses and staff, perhaps pastors make the most visits to hospitals.
I cannot forget that Bill was my first visit. (Bill is not his real name. I wouldn’t want to embarrass him for selecting this rookie to come pray with him). He was in the hospital for four-way bypass surgery.
I have to admit to you that I’m squeamish at the sight of blood, even talking about blood. It wasn’t helping that I wore a shirt, sweater and winter coat on that cold day as I entered the prep room and became overly warm.
I was late and Bill was about to be wheeled into surgery. I remember having to cover my eyes a lot and crossing my arms over my chest as if protectively embracing my own organs.
The anesthesiologist had already begun injecting relaxants as Bill’s wife pleadingly looked to me for a prayer. Bill was fading into sleep as I began to pray. I remember feeling sorry for him having to listen to my stammering prayer as possibly the last thing he would hear this side of Heaven’s gate.
After Bill was wheeled away, I wasn’t much strength or support for his wife, as, feeling nauseated, I quickly excused myself.
What an illustrious beginning. There was little doubt in my mind that I had nowhere to go but to improve from such a poor beginning.
But I am nothing if not persistent. I still get squeamish over blood, but I’ve learned to work through it. Over the years, I have listened to and prayed with hundreds of patients seeking strength and divine presence during trying situations.
During those visits, I have been touched by the way God brings people through these times, including given them miraculous answers. I have been blessed by people as they share their faith through the pain of circumstances which I cannot imagine enduring.
I pray that there are times when my presence has been as much a blessing to them as they have been to me. On each occasion, I am honored to be able to point to the One Who gives us hope through “all things.”
I say “all things” because that is the way it is worded in Romans 8:28, in the New International Version of the Bible: “in all things.” “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
What are all these things? For the most part, “all things” are not the grand things the health and wealth televangelists promise, the telemarketer promotes, or the lottery presents: Good health, great life, great wealth. Not by a long shot. “All things” usually are not the things we pray for. They are often the afflictions mentioned on our prayer lists: cancer, auto accidents, financial struggles, relationship woes or overwhelming burdens. “All things” are the reasons that brought the patient into the hospital.
After hundreds of hospital visits, I finally found myself on the other side of the bed. I had my first operation. It wasn’t pleasant, but definitely not as troubling as the “all things” many others are dealing with. On the operating table I lay in my backless gown, waiting for the anesthesiologist to ask me to count down from 10 as he puts me under. He doesn’t ask, so I began reciting Romans 8:28 and found myself waking up still reciting it. The Lord’s promise is a much greater comfort than counting numbers. It reminded me that I have a present caring God, who is at work in all circumstances to bring good out of possibly the worst of circumstances. I trust God will still be working for my good even when I go to hear the pathology results. I know God is here with me, working this all out for good. It is a grand comfort knowing the Creator of the universe will bring good out of those “all things.”
The Rev. Steve Lyons is pastor of First Christian Church, 518 S. Main St. in Milton-Freewater. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by email at email@example.com.