"Speaking of the pneumonia invading my lungs one doctor said: "I've seen ugly CT scans, but yours is among the ugliest." On the way to the emergency room, I prayed, "Make me a blessing through all this." The way the Holy Spirit guided me was to thank everyone for anything they did and never complain, whether it hurt or not, and even when they awakened me at 5:45 a.m. to be weighed. I was in the hospital for 12 days, received excellent care and endured some of the strongest medications. But we dare not overlook the blessings that have resulted: The staff constantly asked, "Why are you so thankful and kind?" That was the Lord's opening for me to share what the Lord means to me and has allowed me to experience. I shared that in our missionary experiences, we were among people who had nothing, yet they showed joy and gratefulness for everything.
I related that we had been so blessed with their care and God's blessings that I just had to say "thank you." I related that I was cured of complaining with a chorus I learned in Sunday School. Every time I begin to complain, I sing or hum the chorus, "Count your blessings, name them one by one." Can you believe it, for the next few days, every time one of the nurses walked by my room they hummed or sang that chorus!
I had the joy of witnessing to at least 4 MD's, and every nurse and aid -- and everyone said: "you are a different kind of patient." One nurse, after midnight, checked on me and as she was tucking the blankets she began weeping and said, "my life's a mess." I invited her to return when she could and I had the privilege to hold her hands and through her tears lead her to trust Jesus as her Savior.
I still have a visiting nurse three times a week and a therapist twice a week and praise the Lord I am getting stronger and the x-ray I had today will reveal the pneumonia is gone... I wouldn't want to go through this again, but it taught me that being a missionary isn't just when we cross the ocean or preach from a pulpit. We are to be salt and light whatever the circumstance... P.S. - Upon being dismissed from the hospital the Director of that division came by to thank me personally for being an encouragement."
I share his story because as a pastor I visit hospitals a lot and often hear patients, family members, and the like, expressing just the opposite. I myself have not always been the most thankful or cheerful of patients. Yet, Paul challenged me to consider that even my hospital stays can be opportunities to be salt and light. Seeing his joyful demeanor (even when not feeling well) made a nurse comfortable enough to open up with him and give him the opportunity to share about Jesus and lead her to Christ. I wonder if that's not how it should always be for a believer.
Too often we can be so focused on the care we get, or what we think it should be as opposed to what it is (especially in light of the cost), that we are led to complain instead of thanking our caregivers. We look to be served instead of seeking to see it as an opportunity to serve as missionaries in that place. It would be helpful on such occasions to remember how blessed we are, and that many people around the world would give anything just to have a hospital to go to, never mind the level of care we have here in the States. So, as a reminder of what we are called to, and the difference it can make if we just determine to respond differently, I pass his story along to you. After all, it is all about what we can do for Jesus and His kingdom.
To God Alone Be Glory, Pastor Jeff