Wednesday, December 16, 2015

How God Showed Up One Day In A Big Way Through A Small Person In A Hospital Waiting Room

Seven elevators emptied a constant stream of humanity into the wide space surrounding four different waiting rooms outside the ICU. Straight-backed metal chairs that were attached to one another were spaced unevenly around the industrial tile floors. Some of us stood alone, some in knots of two or three, and some leaned against the dingy walls. We were blessed to be seated, because my friends were exhausted from days of waiting for doctors' reports and the next visiting hour to arrive.

A young woman, her mother, a baby in a carrier and her two-year-old son entered the room. I moved blankets and a half-eaten bag of cookies from a chair so they could sit. Across the room a family hoped and prayed their family member would survive the head-on collision. They mourned as they hoped, because others had not survived. The family to our right grew in number as they waited for the doctor to come out of surgery. Those are all the stories I knew, but there were dozens more scattered across the waiting area.

"How old is your son?" I asked. "Two," she said with a tired smile. My friend's mom said, "He's a cutie." His grandmother replied, "He's somethin'," and we all laughed, but just a little. He swayed, whimpered, got a cookie for his effort, smiled, made faces, walked, hopped, faked hitting his mom's knee - things two year old boys should do in hospital waiting rooms. I felt sorry for him. Emotions were on edge. Quiet small-talk was the order of the day, because no one wanted to ask the real question or get the real answers. Prayers were muttered and uttered. That waiting room was no place for a child, and yet there he was.

The phone rang. It wasn't bad news, just an irritating call - the business office. You know that papers have to be signed, but all you care about is your loved one in that bed in that room. Asking you to sign a piece of paper about insurance, or make plans to move them to some other unit, or whatever -  asking you to do that feels like one of the most uncaring and insensitive things anyone could ever do.  The call ended, we recovered - and we waited.

One of the women across the room turned around in her chair to face the wall. She started crying. The family to our right continued to increase in number. A man came into our area, and through tears said to his sister, "It's gonna be allright. Got to be." Heads fell. We waited, and those of us in our corner used the little boy as a welcome distraction. We made faces at him. The family next to us offered him another cookie. His mother smiled, and we waited. 

Then something unexpected happened, so unexpected I'm not sure anyone else saw it. Grandmother turned on a children's song and handed her smartphone to the boy. He moved from side-to-side with the music, his head shifting the opposite direction of his body, and then I recognized the song. My children used to sing it. I even knew the hand-motions, and tried to show them to him. He wasn't interested, and that's probably good. Hospital waiting rooms are not good places for hand-motions. I sang quietly with the phone,

My God is so big, so strong and so mighty,
There's nothing my God cannot do, for you.
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty,
There's nothing my God cannot do, for you.

The mountains are His, the rivers are His
The stars are His handiwork too
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty
There's nothing my God cannot do, for you

There He was, and I almost missed Him. I was so preoccupied with myself, all the need around me, so many situations beyond human control. I was desperately searching my brain and soul for an answer for my friends. I had been praying for a divine moment to offer help to the woman curled up against the wall in her tears. No words came. So, I sat, prayed, and wondered how God would intervene, and then a grandmother played My God Is So Big on her phone for her grandson and I got it. I got no direction about how to help anyone with anything. If anything I became even more convinced of my own uselessness to do anything more than pray and be there. In that song I was reminded that God is in control, still big enough, mighty enough, still creator and owner of all. My heart and soul did not flood with joy. I did not stand and pray down fire from heaven, or shout hallelujah. I just sat very still and knew that He was, and is, God.