I didn’t think I’d be returning to the hospital so soon. After several bouts of shortness of breath earlier this week, we decided it best to contact the trauma team at Hershey Med Center late Wednesday afternoon to let them know what was going on. We followed their instructions and went to the ER, which resulted in a two-night stay, some concerned moments, and what to this point is the successful completion of a procedure Friday morning to removed fluid from my chest cavity. It seems that the accumulation of this kind of fluid is fairly common in trauma cases involving the ribs and lungs. The fluid was putting pressure on my lungs and making it difficult for me to breath. I was able to return home last night and had a good night of rest.
These days have been filled with what seems like a never-ending cascade of eye-opening experiences and lessons from the Lord. And it always seems that just when I start to focus on MY issues and injuries, God expands my vision to the massive amount of pain, hurt, and suffering that surrounds us in every direction, but which we so rarely see by choice or circumstance. I’m having it easy. Those of you who have spent any time at all in a hospital know exactly what I’m talking about. Your blinders get ripped off your face and you are forced to reckon with the presence of great pain and suffering that exists in the world.
For example, I spent most of my day on Thursday playing the waiting game. I knew that some type of procedure needed to be performed to remove the fluid from my chest. Enough of the options had been presented to leave me with the knowledge that none of them would be pleasant. So, my mind went to work pondering the unknown. It became a battle to lay it all at the foot of the Lord and to trust the Great Physician. And just as I was focusing on myself, my temporary stay in a two-bed holding room became an opportunity to gain some much-needed perspective. At some later point I might be more comfortable sharing the entire story of what happened. The short story is that I had a roommate come in who was being readmitted due to some complications from a previous surgery. In a brief conversation with he and his wife, Lisa and I learned that they were Christians and that their son was involved in youth ministry. Then, in a matter of a few gut-wrenching moments heard through a thin curtain, their physician loudly and directly informed them that some serious cancer had been found in his body. As quickly as the physician arrived, he was gone. Lisa, Bethany, and I sat in stunned silence on our side of the curtain as the couple quietly, intimately, and emotionally processed the news and then prayed together. While I felt like our presence was such an insensitive invasion of their privacy in this life-changing moment, I know that it was in God’s plans for us to be there. The three of us were moved. . . and the emotions continued with the arrival of their pastor as we listened to him sensitively minister to this couple. Then, we listened as the man poured out his heart to the Lord in prayer at the invitation of the Pastor. I can only hope that I would exhibit such deep faith and maturity in a moment like that. I’m sure that sometime soon I will feel the freedom to share more of what the Lord was doing in that moment.
I was happy to return home last night. . . very happy. I returned home with a body that was feeling better, and a God-placed burden that I hope and pray will never disappear. As someone involved in youth ministry, the burden might best be expressed with a question: “What are we doing to expose our kids to the reality of pain and suffering in the world, and what are we doing to equip them to minister to the suffering and point them to the hope of the resurrection for those who are in Christ?” Our tendency to avoid pain and seek pleasure leads us to avoid those who are in pain. I’m not sure exactly where this is all heading for me, but I know the curtain has been pulled back for me over the course of the last three weeks, and I’m seeing and experiencing things that I never before knew.
One last thing. . . I want to publicly say “thanks” to my wife, family, and friends for all their care and concern for me. I am a blessed man.