As a pastor, I’ve spent the last decade or so of my life in countless hospital rooms to pray and attempt to bring Christ’s comfort to people connected to my church community. I’ve done my best to thoroughly read and respond to prayer lists. I’ve made a lot of phone calls to check-in and follow-up with people in need of God’s physical healing. It was never a duty but always a joy and always a part of my calling. But to be honest, I never really knew the true impact of caring for the sick and their families until last month. I never knew it because I’ve never really needed it before.
Ten days after his March 4th birth, my son Luca spent five days in the hospital with, what turned out to be, a bad staph infection. The infectious disease doctor (we wish he had a less ominous title) said it was nothing more than bad luck. Everyone has staph on their body but his found a way into his not yet fully developed system through a pretty rough case of infant eczema that broke down his skin. We had several scary moments of unknown causes and outcomes but in the end Luca quickly responded to his medicines and the prayers of God’s children. He was discharged after four nights in the hospital, six short of what the doctors were expecting. God does heal and we saw it first hand in his little body. He quickly shed his IV’s, monitors, and tests to get back to the laid back life that newborns are supposed to be living at home with momma.
Joining our tears of love and fear for our little man were the tears of absolute gratitude for God’s people. Carlie and I were completely overwhelmed by the unexpected outpouring of care we received by the living Body of Christ that surrounded us. We received so many texts, phone calls, and emails from people checking in on us and letting us know they were praying for our boy. We had friends drop everything to help watch or spend the night with our other three kids at home so I could be at the hospital (after just doing the same thing for Luca’s birth the week before). People brought meals to our house and dropped-off gift cards to restaurants near the hospital. We had many churches and hundreds of people praying for him.
That is what it means to be the church and I can’t stop being moved to tears by it. In a culture where Christians get a pretty bad rap, I have hope. My family has been firsthand recipients of a love for the hurting that shows our world who Jesus is and what He is about. I long, work, and pray for a day when the church fully meets the overwhelming needs of the billions of stricken, poor, and starved in our world. But until that day comes, I am reminded that caring for the sick and hurting in our own neighborhoods is a pretty good place to start.