I had this at the end of this post, but figured it might be best to put it at the beginning just so there is an explanation as to why I was in the ER. To clarify, I was actually in the ER waiting room. A friend who I am working with over this summer was cleaning and, long story short, ended up passing out and hitting her head on the floor. She had to go to the ER because we thought she had a concussion (which I think the doctors said she did). She is resting at home for a week, but is doing okay with no long lasting damage! ... And that is why I was in the ER waiting room.
I plopped down next to Leslie. The vinyl chair felt sticky and who knew how many germs were coating the metal arm rests. But I was worn out from an afternoon's work and could've cared less what germs I was sitting on – at least I was sitting. Leslie and I talked for a bit and she informed me that emergency rooms are great for people watching. I laughed. But seeing as I had nothing else to keep me occupied while I waited, I let my eyes wander around the waiting room to see the people around me.
If you need a reminder that we live in a broken and fallen world, visit an emergency room. As I looked around I saw people waiting to be admitted. One man with what looked to be a sprained knee. A woman with a terrible migraine who cried when her little son wasn't looking, but put on a cheerful facade when he spoke to her. A woman who looked to be in pain everywhere. And numerous others.
Then there were the people, like us, the ones waiting to hear news on how their friend or family member was doing. They were easy to spot out from the crowd of sick people. They were the ones without the blue and white band around their wrist, but they were also the ones with the anxious and worried looks.
There was one family– a mom, teenage girl, and baby– who were sitting across from me. The worry etched on their faces was painful. They kept looking to the emergency room door marked for chest pain. They talked with each other a little, but they mostly just looked at that door. About an hour after we got there, the man they were waiting on burst out of the doors. The daughter looked up and relief spread across her face. She said, "Look! There he is!" But his response lacked the relief and joy of the daughter's. "Let's get the **** out of here! Now!" And with those words he stormed out of the hospital with his wife and daughter scrambling to get everything together and follow him.
It hurt. These people who had patiently waited hours for him were not thanked in the least. We live in a fallen world I told myself. And sometimes seeing the effects of the fall so vividly is painful. Where was grace and love in this hospital I wondered. I could look around and see pain, but was there any love in the room?
As I sat there thinking about that a woman with a little blonde haired girl came into the emergency room. "We have free food by the ICU if any one is hungry and wants some. Please! Come! We have lots and we can't leave until it's gone." Damarise and I hadn't eaten anything since we left straight from work to head to the ER. We were hungry and passing up on free food is like saying no to a birthday present. (It really shouldn't happen).
So, ten minutes later we wandered down the hallway in search of the free food. As we were searching for the food we ran into the same lady with her daughter. She told us we should could grab some food and eat with them. We told her we would love to. As we followed her down to the ICU I asked her if she did this every night. She said that she wishes she could but she did not have enough time or money for it so she only did it on Wednesdays. She said that she spent a lot of time in the ER waiting room the past few years waiting on several different family members. And sometimes, she said, a home cooked meal is one of the most comforting things, it is also incredibly cheaper than eating in the cafeteria (of course what could beat free food!).
We followed her through winding corridors until we came to a hallway. As we followed her into the hall we were greeted by several smiling faces serving food. There were casserole dishes full of home cooked food covering two long tables. And there they were, a little group from a church serving food and comforting people in that little, but extremely huge way.
I was blown away. In a place so sad and hurting there were a few people sharing food and caring for the people waiting on their loved ones. They were not only sharing food, but sharing Christ's love. They were being a light to everyone around them by humbling themselves and serving. They gave hope to the ones who were hopeless. They cared about what people were going through. They listened to the stories of hurt and mourned with those who mourned.
It was a good reminder for me. Yes, the world is fallen and broken. But we have an amazing Saviour, Jesus Christ, who came and lived on this fallen earth yet without sin. He died and took the sins of the world on Himself, but rose in order to redeem His chosen ones and save them from the bondage of sin and that that is hope! That is the hope that these people were sharing. By sharing the love of simply serving food they were showing people that they care. They were showing that they care because they have been redeemed by a living Saviour who cares. By a Saviour who saves us from more than physical ailments, but from our sin and eternal death. He is the one who gives life and that is what that little group of people were sharing. It was so encouraging to see. It was a humbling reminder.
As I left the ER that night I couldn't help but give thanks. I gave thanks that there are people who are being a light in a place that is so broken. I gave thanks that God's love penetrates the darkest places. And I gave thanks that this is not the end, that one day Christ will return and, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4). I cannot wait for that day!