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I Was Sick and You Visited Me

by UNC Contributor

That Monday in January was blisteringly cold at -31ºC. My truck was difficult to start and never seemed to warm up all the way to work. Then the backhoe I used at work would not start. After about an hour of trying I gave in to the cold and shut down for the day. The crew was pleased to hear this.

I wanted to discuss some thoughts with our pastor so I went to see him. During our conversation he asked if I could find the time to go and visit a lady from our Church who was not doing so well and was staying in the local hospital. On most Sabbaths I would say “Hello” and make small talk with her and her husband. They were an interesting couple. She was recovering from her illness but had lately taken a turn for the worse. She had been hospitalized since October and was in intensive care. The situation was very hard on her husband.

When I was asked, I thought, Sure – no problem. But then remembered I hate hospitals. They’re full of sick people and are depressing. I never leave one feeling “up.” My wife works at the old folks’ home here in town and she is often depressed when the residents get sick or die.

As I left my pastor’s office I began to come up with reasons not to go. I had to light the fireplace to warm the house, bring in logs, get a haircut, plan tomorrow’s work, do my books, check the stock market and then discover the cure for cancer! I was really too busy to go and visit someone that was ill in a hospital.

No one ever asked me to go visit someone before, so why did my pastor do so today? I have prayed for brethren before when I heard prayer announcements. But even here I have been too busy praying for my family, my kids, my problems, my this and my that. How can I pray for everyone else, except to say, “God, help everyone else that is sick. The list is too long, there are so many.”

So I decided I had to go. God was watching; how could I not go? I arrived at the hospital and made my way to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). You have to call the nurses’ station on a phone to see if they well let you in. I hoped they wouldn’t, but as soon as I said I went to the same Church as she did, I was told to come on in.

I was not expecting to see what I saw. There were at least 10 separate rooms with lots of monitors in each room. There were cords running everywhere and it seemed like there were two nurses to a room. Very Intensive. Each person that I passed was near death’s door. I did not want to stare because I had to be careful where I walked so as not to knock over the monitors that were in the hallways as well as the rooms.

As she came into view I was not sure this was her. I still pictured her in her Church attire, shaking my hand. In hospitals you quickly lose all dignity and the busy lives we lead outside disappear and just surviving the next few moments becomes uppermost important. She was on a ventilator that was attached through her throat. And she was breathing heavily with her chest and stomach rising and falling with each breath. Another cord was attached to her nose and arms.

The attending nurse was glad to know I was from the Church. It seemed to bring a smile to the nurse, but I don't know why. The sick church member could not talk and did not open her eyes but she could hear me, the nurse said. So I started to talk. I told her a little news and how cold it was and that we had been praying for her. The Church has. But as I talked I found myself being self-conscious as she did not answer back to help make the conversation go smoother. And the nurses were listening as they went about caring for her. I felt awkward. I can’t imagine how she felt.

As I talked the lights began to flash and the numbers on the monitors were constantly going up and down. I was concerned for my sister and knew that the only thing I could do at this time was to pray. Really pray from my heart and not the sleepy prayer I so often offer up. On that day, she cared not about any war overseas or the crashing stock market or any other cares that we so often concern ourselves with. Her concern was her next breath.

I have been slack in caring for our brethren and was more concerned about myself and my life. Aren’t we all like this?

May God’s Kingdom soon come.

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