Lessons from the ER https://beckielindsey.com/2018/10/01/lessons-from-the-er/

My husband, Scott had a tonsillectomy last Monday. If you’ve had your tonsils removed, I bet the memory triggers something akin to post-traumatic stress as your hand spontaneously rubs your throat. Yeah, it’s no picnic. And I don’t care what they say, but no amount of ice cream is worth the pain!

At 52, the surgery alone is tough. But by Wednesday, Scott was experiencing excruciating intermittent chest pain and vomiting (with stitches in his throat!) which landed us in the hospital Emergency Room 45 minutes away from our home.

If you’ve ever been to an ER, I’m sure you can sympathize when I say, the place was a zoo.

Sadly, we’ve all grown to learn, this is part of the process.

To make matters worse, the hospital is under “remodeling” construction. The parking lot was a madhouse with cars circling like buzzards. The ER was so crowded you would have thought there was a rock concert—a few patients appeared to be on drunken and/or drug-induced stupors as if they’d been in attendance.

The check-in process was confusing even for the nurses who frantically went in one door and out another in search of patients. People were sick, injured, cranky, frightened, and downright rude.

It wasn’t long before I found myself sucked into the manic environment.

My attitude went from concerned, too fearful, to frustrated which eventually morphed into anger.

What was wrong with my husband? No one seemed to know. Nurses and technicians did test after test as we were shuffled from one crowded, germ-infested room to the next. We waited in a jam-packed hallway for a doctor for several hours.

About four hours into our wait, a nurse announced that anyone who was not a patient had to leave their loved one alone in the hallway and go back to the circus in the waiting room. This news went over like the proverbial lead balloon. Did this nurse realize how difficult it is to be sitting with someone who is having chest pains and then be told you must leave them? One woman adamantly refused to leave her husband forcing the nurse to call security all while the loudspeaker squawked “code blue” as medical staff sprinted through the nearby double doors.

Reluctantly, I followed the nurse’s request and stomped out into the waiting room to find there were no seats. And then I spotted her. A woman named Janette I’d spoken with earlier who was experiencing chest pains, too. I remember thinking to myself when I saw her the first time, “I should ask if I can pray for her.” But because of my own fear, I didn’t ask. Instead, when the nurse called her, I held up my hands like a steeple and mouthed I’m praying. A large smile lit up her face. I should have asked!

Now, there she was again, alone and shaking with fear. But before I could reach her, a nurse escorted her away just as our eyes met. I mouthed to her that I was praying and she smiled and nodded. Oh, why didn’t I listen to the Spirit the first time?

My next thought was a conviction from the Holy Spirit, “What about the nurse you got angry at?” I bowed my head and prayed for the nurse who was simply trying to do her job in a high-stress environment. I asked the Lord to forgive me for placing blame on her. As I glanced around the room, I began to pray for each person as the Holy Spirit helped me to see them with His eyes.

Jesus not only loves every one of them, He knows them intimately and died for their sins the way He died for mine.

The thought occurred to me that my purpose in the ER was not just to get help for my husband. I was there as an ambassador of Christ. I was there to shine His light.

The light of Christ’s love was most definitely needed and yet, It took me over four hours and a lot of frustration to come to terms with the eternal implications of the situation—of every situation.

Quite frankly, I’m embarrassed to share that it took me so long to remember something as fundamental. But the truth is: it’s not about me. It’s all about God. It’s about the grace He showed me that day in the ER.  It’s about the fact that He allows us to be His light. Isn’t that amazing?

And get this! I may have blown my opportunity to pray both times I saw Janette, but God gave me another chance. I found out Janette had been admitted and was able to leave her a note with my phone number. Today I received a wonderful surprise call from Janette. God gave me a third opportunity and I wasn’t going to mess it up. Thanks to God’s grace and technology, I was able to pray with her over the phone. What a blessing!

Speaking of blessings, I’m pleased to report that my husband is home from the hospital and recuperating from a bad reaction to the antibiotics that attributed to his chest pains and elevated enzyme levels.

Yes, God uses His people even in stressful situations—dare I say, especially in stressful situations.

He used Joseph in prison. He used Daniel in the lion’s den. He used David who was on the run from Saul who attempted to murder David. He used Paul in prison. He used the disciples in Christ’s ministry despite their lack of faith.

And He wants to use you and me.

No matter where we are, no matter our circumstances, God already has a plan in place.

As Christians, it is up to us whether or not we will be His light.  

Jesus says, in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world.” And in Ephesians 5:8, “At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.”

My friend, perhaps you are smack in the middle of a difficult situation. I encourage you to remember that God wants to use you.

How are you going to let your light shine?

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