Sometimes, in the midst of our sorrow and pain, we forget that we are not the only ones hurting. Wednesday night, following the pathology report for my wife revealing the level of her brain cancer, I desperately needed some time to just walk and think… and pray. So I took some time to go and circle the parking lot of Brooks hospital where we have been in recovery since Pam’s surgery.
As I walked outside, the last thing I wanted was a conversation… with anyone. But as I left through the sliding glass door of the hospital, there stood a man I had walked past many times over the past several days as he pushed a brain injured young lady in a wheelchair and safety helmet. He was a stereotypical redneck; baseball cap, beard, jeans. I had spoken to him many times like guys do… you know, deep stuff. “Hey bud.” “How’s it going?” Or just a silent nod. I saw him heating up a McDonald’s sandwich in the microwave one night for his daughter, and offered him some leftovers from a meal my daughter-in-law, Logan had made that night for us.
But that evening I didn’t want to hardly make eye contact. But I did, and said, “How’s it going?” And he started telling me about his daughter, crippled for life by a road rage incident with her boyfriend. They were leaving in the morning and heading back to Rome, Georgia. They had been here two months. I wished him well and wrapped myself up in my pain again.
As I walked away God landed on me like a load of rocks. There was my opportunity to offer comfort, attention or even a prayer for another hurting human being. A man who loved his daughter and who my Father loved.
I continued walking under the load of conviction, promising God I’d get up early next morning to pray for the guy. But that didn’t cut it. I kept trying to walk away from that still, small, piercing voice inside of me. And as I circled back around the parking lot, I saw him again… sitting alone, smoking a cigarette.
So I approached him this time. And I got honest with him. I knelt down and said, “Hey man, my name is Tim. My wife is here recovering from brain surgery. I’m a pastor and I was just so lost in my own stuff a minute ago. I’d like to pray for your daughter and for you if I may. And I’d like to tell you that there is a God who loves you… and her.
He said, “That would be really great. Thank you.” So as I knelt beside him, I prayed for Jerry and his daughter Shannon. And I walked away with my load a little lighter, and a reminder that I serve a God who wouldn’t walk past my pain.
Even as He hung on a cross.