"He comforts us when we suffer. That is why whenever other people suffer, we are able to comfort them by using the same comfort we have received from God."
~2 Corinthians 1:4, God's Word Translation
I recently had surgery. I'll be honest ~ I HATE all things "medical". The science of medicine has always intrigued me, but the role of "patient" triggers anxiety and fear. That said, the whole idea of what they referred to as "major surgery" was far from appealing. The week leading up to my surgery date, I had a nervous stomach and wrestled with questioning every aspect of it. Did I really need this? Did I choose the right surgeon? Did I really want to have it two hours away from home? A trail of "what-ifs" paraded through my mind.
To calm my worries, I wrote out some of my favorite verses in a little book to remind me that God would be with me and would protect me. But honestly, I knew the verses were not guarantees that everything would turn out well...just that God would be with me every step of the way.
I was grateful to wake up after my surgery and hear that everything was fine. I was wheeled into a room with two beds. Relief washed over me when I noticed that I had the room to myself. My husband came in and sat with me. He helped me take my first bite of food. He helped me get out of bed and walked me to the restroom and up and down the halls for exercise. It was comforting to have my best friend right beside me, looking after me. Dave planned to stay with me all night. He figured he could create a makeshift bed out of the three chairs that lined my hospital room.
We were both disappointed at midnight when a woman was admitted and assigned to my room. Dave took his cue to leave. I felt sorry for myself. I wanted my husband with me, and I wanted my privacy. I didn't sleep the entire night. I lay awake listening to the painful groans of my room-mate, wanting nothing more than to get some sleep. Before long, daylight was breaking and my husband was by my side again. I was grateful that I would be discharged that morning.
But there was Agnes, my room-mate, hearing from doctors that they needed to operate, and soon. I heard her fears in her replies. My heart ached for her. I knew her suffering had far exceeded my own.
As I got dressed and packed my items into my bag, I thought about the little book I had brought to the hospital with me to calm my fears. I got it out and went to her bedside. "Agnes, you seem scared. May I give you something? This little book helped me with my own fears." I handed her my little book of handwritten verses. She took it into her hands and clutched it firmly in her grasp. She thanked me over and over, and began to thumb through the pages. I put my hand on her and prayed for healing and for God's peace to wash over her. I could tell she didn't want me to leave, but it was time for me to go. I promised her I'd be praying for her throughout the day. I could see that my words brought her comfort.
Looking back, I can't help but wonder ~ was I placed in that city...in that hospital...with that surgeon...on that day...so I could offer a little piece of comfort? Had the little book I'd made really been written for someone other than me? How grateful I am that, because of my silly fears and worries, I was able to reach out and offer comfort to someone who really needed it. Who would have thought that a dreaded surgery would turn into a divine appointment? Only God...
"The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up."