I went to the hospital today to do a couple of visits – a fairly routine thing… pretty much every week. Today was a visit to someone who was still in the emergency room and I just sat and talked with the family for a while and prayed with them and as I was leaving I noticed another family standing outside of a room where the curtain was drawn and the grief in their circle was overwhelming. I have no idea what was going on behind the curtain but it was certainly not good… As I walked past I could feel their heart ache and sorrow as tangibly as a punch… Was it a child… an elderly parent… injury, accident, illness? Their cries have been stuck in my head and heart ever since I left the hospital.
I sat in the parking lot for a while. How could there be so many different emotions existing side by side in such a tight confine? In one room a family breathes a sigh of relief at the good news from a doctor – in the next, grief and agony beyond imagination – yet in another the fear and uncertainty still for what is to come… All calling on the name of God at some level or another.
Have you ever heard that phrase “there are no atheists in foxholes”? I’m not sure if that’s true or not… but I do know that when the life of a loved one is at stake – a call to God for help is uttered by many people. Then, what happens a lot of times… If the loved one recovers, those calls to God and promises for a better life made by the petitioner are forgotten and the result is written off as a coincidence… and alternately, if the prayer seemingly goes unanswered, there is anger and hate towards Him for not doing something.
My heart hurts for that unknown (to me) family and their unknown (to me) situation… It shouldn’t take seeing the overwhelming grief though to remember to stay empathetic and sympathetic to the needs and hurts of others. This life promises brokenness… but thank God for the life we do have and for what comes on the other side. Revelation 21:4 says “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Amen.
And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears. And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears… After The Storm, Mumford & Sons
Jason Rehmel is the Lead Pastor at Eastside Christian Church on the east side of Cincinnati. If you are someone who has had a terrible experience(s) at a church or churches – stop by some weekend and give it one more shot withEastside. Whether you have felt judged, or dismissed, or unwanted – wherever it has been – Eastside is different.