Friday, February 5, 2010

Legs of Determination

It took a month of training with the hospital chaplain, to learn hospital procedures, emergency codes and things we should or should not say that may upset the patient. Our job as a spiritual care volunteer was to visit them as to offer them support by listening, praying or comforting them. If we brought a little sunshine into their room only by smiling then we would have succeeded. Many patients on the ward that I visited were long term care patients. Some of them may have been in the hospital as long as five years. Some were bedridden; others could only get up into a wheel chair. Other patients waited for a bed to become available in another facility like a convalescent home for the elderly. Visiting every week I could get to know some of the patients quite well. They looked forward to the visit. Sometimes if you missed a visit they would even worry about why you didn’t come. Many patients are quite lonely and cherish the time that someone can give showing them a little attention, love and care. Some patients can be sad, moody, angry, or in horrific pain.

One patient I visited had both his legs amputated because of an infected sore. One leg and then it transferred to the other leg and so they amputated that leg. He was left bed ridden for two years which caused bed sores on his back. These sores caused incredible pain. All he wanted was for his sores to heal so he could go home. His wife didn’t want him back home. She didn’t want to take care of him. Ted is a smart man who also is a writer. I find it amusing how God always brings other writers into my life. I went to visit Ted for the first time. I was quite intimidated I must say. However, he didn’t bite my head off. As it turned out, Ted was quite the friendly fellow, despite how frustrated he was at his circumstance. For months I would visit with him and prayed with him a couple of times. He exchanged a few writing tips to help get me motivated to write. We developed a friendly relationship.
For someone like me it is difficult to distance myself from a person. I usually get way too attached. Some relationships are for a season. In visiting patients that is what it is like. When you go in the next week they may not be there. I’d like to write a happy ending for Ted. However, I have to leave that up to God. One day Ted left the hospital of his own free will. It did not sound like going home was the right place for him to go in his condition. For Ted, time was not standing still. Being in that hospital bed for two years with no visitors except the hospital staff and a few volunteers, he decided that was enough. He was going to live life and it was not going to be in that hospital room anymore.

Over a three month period of time, during my visits I had watched Ted exercise in his bed in an attempt to strengthen his arms so that he would be able to get himself in and out of bed and into his wheel chair without any help. I hope and pray that Ted is still doing that on his own, even better with someone who cares. Ted was a determined man and I think a courageous man. He had his legs cut out from under him and every day the sun would rise and he would rise with it. Pain and all, he tried to get back up and walk again. Doctors would not give him prosthetic legs. They said his heart could not take the strain. Ted had the courage to try and the desire to overcome his physical disability. He may not have received those legs but he can walk tall in his spirit because he is determined, brave and strong willed. His physical heart may have been weak, but he had the heart of a champion. I hope to see a new book on the shelves one day written by Ted . . .

I applaud Ted for his determination to rise above his situation. During the time that I knew Ted, I never once heard him complain or even ask God why this had happened to him. Ted accepted his challenge with the courage and strength of a champion. In this chapter I wanted to write something about Ted and relate it to some spiritual message. When I began to flip through the bible, I ended up in the book of Job. Probably because of the way I look at Ted and his circumstance. People always want answers or some explanation that would somehow defend God. God does not need defending. God is God. Knowing the depth to who God really is, seems to be something we have a difficult time understanding. In my weakness, I searched for answers in the bible that would in some way give reason to the whys of this world. Why would Ted have to live such a circumstance? Why do many suffer in so many different ways? The whys of this world are many and the answers seem few. I have come to realize that in life and in death there is a purpose only known to God the creator of all things.

The book of Job relates a story of a Godly man. God allowed such horrific things to happen to him. Even then, Job's friends and the people in Job's life looked for answers. Many pulled their own conclusions from their own wisdom or lack of. When I read through Job 39 and 40 to gain some insight as to see God's response to Job, it opened my mind to experience just a small climpse of the depth and the reality of God who is the Creator of all things. Perhaps the one verse says it best. Words of God spoken to Job in reply, "Do you still want to argue with the Almighty. You are God's critic, but do you have the answers?"

Job responds to the Lord, "I am nothing ~how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say."
Perhaps we need to read The Lord's Challenge to Job ~ Job 40 - God has some questions and teaching for Job. If you want Godly answers, don't look to me. Look to God and begin your conversation with God by reading Job 40. Read the entire book of Job, but first ask God to open your eyes and ears to hear what His Holy Spirit has to say to you. Through Jesus Christ the Saviour.