Being with

I wrote on Monday about praying with someone. A couple days after that story, I thought about visiting the patient to see how the story turned out. And another patient who I also talked with, prayed for.

Chaplain mugsI was talking with God about it: “My God, on Sunday and Monday I asked you for help and healing for people. I wonder whether you answered. Or better, how you responded to my  request. Or better, to our requests.”

Part of me wants to walk into the hospital and see miraculous walking, knowing that my response would be, “God, thanks for responding to my request.” and then, “What if I prayed like that more?”

Part of me expects to walk into the hospital and see no significant change, knowing that my response would be, “God, I’m glad that I prepared them for things to stay the same.”

Even as I was writing to God and reflecting, I thought, “but you sat and listened and hugged and wept.”

What if that’s part of the answer to my requests? That God takes us, with all our insufficiency to fix the medical issues and allows us to sit with. As part of the answer to other than medical issues. Because in every room with every patient in every life, there are parts of life that are other that the physical. That’s what I believe. That’s what I read. That’s what I experience.

So when I only measure the value of a moment of prayer, a time of conversation, a season of tears, in physical recovery or physical change, I am picking a pretty narrow measure. When we measure our value as helpers, our quality of faith, contribution to God in physical recovery or physical change, we picking a narrow measure.

I could tell you what I discovered about the patients’ bodies when I walked into the hospital again, but that would risk confusing the measures. Instead, I’m grateful for the time with the patients. And with God.