Thursday, February 20, 2020

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church  |  St. Louis, MO

Recently, I visited a church member who has lost eyesight in one eye. I went to encourage her but I think I was the one who left being most encouraged. Here are a few take-aways.

Joy In Affliction 
When I visited my sister, I walked into a room dim in light but bright with joy. I sat on a little window sill and asked how my beloved sister was doing, and she proceeded to proclaim with great happiness and eloquence, the marvelous sovereignty of God. This woman bubbled forth with joy. Like a fountain shooting up water high into the sky, Scriptures and rock-solid theology of God’s character and attributes soared high above the clouds of doctors, nurses, tests, eye drops, anesthesiologists, and surgeons. In the affliction, Christ was her adoration. Like Paul who wrote to the Corinthians, while himself battling great suffering, sorrowful, yet always rejoicing! That was evidently true of my dear sister in that hospital room. It didn’t just happen because the pastor came for a hospital visit. It was clear that she had been musing on Truth, meditating on Scripture, chewing it over in her heart, and pondering every single word of many Scriptures that came to her mind! She couldn’t speak enough of God’s sovereignty, providence, kingship, power, wisdom, and glory! In this moment, my sister had only one beat to her drum and that was rejoicing in her affliction because God is sovereign & good.

Happiness All Alone
This heart-filled Truth drove her to one inevitable disposition — happiness. When I walked into the hospital room, I had to go to bed #2, so i had to walk past her roommate who also had a visitor sitting in a chair. So I tried to politely walk past them to where I went past the curtain to find my sister sitting upright in a chair tucked away in the corner of the room.  It was dim. Just a little bit of sunlight was peeking through the shades. The TV and radio were off. And when I called her name, she immediately smiled and greeted me with “hello pastor!” Within the first few minutes, my shepherd’s heart was overwhelmed with humility, gratitude, and joy because my suffering sister sat in a God-given happiness that can only come deep into the souls of those resting on the bedrock of God’s kingship. She has many family members who genuinely love and care for her and visit her often, but at this moment, she sat quiet and alone in the corner.  And, though she was physically alone when I visited, she couldn’t have been more happy because she was communing with her Savior.

Pillow of Sovereignty
I don’t think I tried to count but the number of times my sister mentioned the attributes of God proved to be too many to tally. She couldn’t stop speaking of the character of God! She wouldn’t stop recounting the attributes of God’s power, wisdom, grace, love, provision and care. She remembered the great providence of God and how He worked all things according to His wise decrees in bringing everything about at just the right time. She had a comfortable pillow in her affliction. And that pillow she laid her head upon was the sovereign character of her God.

Instruction of Believers
I’m the pastor but I was preached to. I sat on that window sill and listened to her expound with great affection and confidence the attributes of her God. My heart was instructed. That hospital room proved to be a university classroom for me. I was taught. I was educated. I learned.  It wasn’t some deep profound lesson about Greek grammar or an exegetical nugget. I learned something that can’t be learned in a Master’s Program. I learned what it is to suffer well with a heart welling up with contentment because of an unshakeable confidence in who God is! This is something a classroom couldn’t teach me. But the hospital room did! And my sister in the Lord did! I told her that I may be her pastor, but I was sitting under her ministry in that hospital room! Praise the Lord that the Spirit of God instructed my soul through the example of my sister who loved her Savior and rested upon His wise providence.

Evangelism to Roommate 
Interestingly, when we were finished praying and reading the Scriptures, she told me to pray for her roommate. Her roommate was a bit vulgar, rude, and unpleasant. She was afraid of dying, which she verbalized to the nurses.  So, after I hugged my sister Carol, I began to walk out and waited for the nurse to leave before I stopped near the roommate’s bed and said that I was a local pastor. I asked if I could pray for her in any way. She immediately smiled and said yes.  She told me she had tumors on her trachea and they didn’t know if they were cancerous — and how severe it would be. She was nervous, sad, fearful, and very anxious. I took my Bible and grabbed a gospel tract that I have with me (in the inside flap of my Bible) which was titled: “Are You Right With God?”  I grabbed her hand, held it gently, prayed for her specifically, and prayed through the gospel briefly. Then I gave her the gospel tract and told her to read it because it had changed my life and it is the Truth.  

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