At 2:00 a.m., the conversation in the waiting room of the hospital intensive care unit always lags. There is nothing more to say. […]
Published on: 05-31-2019
At 2:00 a.m., the conversation in the waiting room of the hospital intensive care unit always lags. There is nothing more to say.
All the reassuring Bible passages have been read. All the children and grandchildren have been talked about.
Every hopeful indicator offered by the medical staff has been thoroughly examined—two, three times, or four.
The fluorescent lights occasionally flicker, as do the hopes of those who sit and wait. Inside the polished metal doors is someone precious, someone vital to those who wait. Each time there is a footfall in the hallway or a rolling gurney passes, there is a quick intake of breath, for fear makes even normal sounds seem ominous.
As a young pastor, I used to think it was my role to say wise things, speak earnestly and slow; talk faith as long as there was cause for hope. But then I learned the poverty of words when hearts are twisted tight with grief; when tears bring no relief; when the worry will not go away.
When words have run their course and done their best, there is, at last, the fact of simply waiting with the ones who worry, hurt, or grieve. The grip of a hand, an arm around the shoulder, the kindly touch that wordlessly says, “I’m not going anywhere”—these are the gifts we give each other when we’ve run out of words.
When our bodies hurt, when hearts need healing, we learn what it means to be part of the body of Christ. The simple presence of another believer who shares our pain or holds our hand becomes the presence of the Lord Himself. It is just as He promised: “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).
The disciple of Jesus who waits with us in the small hours of the morning reminds us—brings back to our minds—the One who promises that He will never leave us or forsake us, even to the end of the age.
The Lord who sought the comfort of His friends in His own awful waiting built His church upon a plan that we would bear each other’s burdens, and so fulfill His law of love (Gal. 6:2). Around you—day by day and week by week—are those whom God has gifted to encourage and sustain you, sometimes even with words. He has likewise given you to them—to wait with them and share the time, and represent Him in the hour when presence is more powerful than any spoken word.
As you discover the remarkable stories of this edition of Adventist World, note just how often joy arrives in the presence of some godly man or woman who expresses Christ’s gift of presence in the moment of another’s need.