Thoughts From the Waiting Room

Hospital SignageWe have all been there…

Perhaps more times than we enjoy remembering. It’s a waiting room. This week, like with many others I know, I had some time spent wondering about the diagnosis and treatment plan for a friend.

Another friend of mine sat in his waiting room waiting news about his mom. Still another friend, and co-worker from my banking years in Texas is facing another medical challenge and is waiting for a treatment plan – praying for Mickey and Diane…  There are so many others who are connected with me in some form or fashion who have also been very concerned about someone in their life – probably from a waiting room similar to the one I found myself in.

And so many others prayed, hoped and treated a host of illnesses across the nation.

As a pastor I have spent many hours around the hospital. I have witnessed miraculous recoveries, lingering sickness, and, yes, even death. Waiting rooms have experienced the dearth of human emotion. I have cringed at some of the reactions over the years, at the same time I understand the feelings that many might have.

Pastoring in Alaska we were blessed to experience no deaths within our church, and very little time was spent in waiting rooms. While here in Washington we have had more than just a few. Last names float through my mind – and with each name comes a particular memory and face that I will cherish for years. (Dorothy Runyon, 92, “That’s all right, you can call me ol’ woman!”)

This morning I sat in another hospital waiting room awaiting news about a man who has become a good friend to our church, and to me. I got to enjoy some time with his sister and parents, and his wife, and my associate, of whom I am very thankful God put him in my life.

Depending on the situation, there seems to be some familiar paths that conversations will take. Of course, we all want to comfort and console each other, but it is inevitable that we begin to compare one sickness to another (some very graphic, others only generally spoken of), surgical and hospital histories of the particular location we are in, funny and touching memories revolving around the family, maybe even a little about the current events surrounding us (Hmmm… Not a word about soccer!)

Today I enjoyed a deep reminiscence about a common past – the south, computers, banking, churches… It seems like we were talking a foreign language as we spouted DOS, Power, VS, JCL, TSO, SPF, batches, 12 hour shifts, ATM’s, Tandem, green bar, removable disk drives, computer tapes…

We knew what we were talking, even if no one else had a clue!.

Yet, it seems eventually every conversation turns to the subject of God, and perhaps religion in general, but mostly about our belief system. We may be slow to have a clear definition of the subject, but we want to present the things that bring comfort during times like this. It is from these conversations that you get a hint of the framework, backbone and mettle of the people you are talking to. Though the terminology might be a little different, after all, we all come from different parts of the world, you seek out an answer to the source of their comfort.

Where do you find comfort?

The psalmist collects his praises to God in one of the longest worded sections of the Book of Psalms… What we call chapter 119. In this long reading there are 22 sections, one for each letter of the Hebrew Alphabet. Throughout this chapter, the psalmist records the blessing of God and names the things that give him comfort. Though it is primarily all about the Word of God, we find some thoughtful presentations within these 176 verses.

For today, this is the one I turn to…

Psa 119:49-56 NIrV   Zayin. Remember what you have said to me. You have given me hope. (50) Even when I suffer, I am comforted because you promised to keep me alive. (51) Proud people are always making fun of me. But I don’t turn away from your law. (52) LORD, I remember the laws you gave long ago. I find comfort in them. (53) I am very angry because evil people have turned away from your law. (54) No matter where I live, I sing about your orders. (55) LORD, during the night I remember who you are. That’s why I keep your law. (56) I have really done my best to obey your rules.

My prayer for you is that you have a source you turn to for comfort and hope when those times creep into your life…


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