A while ago, I met a youth during a weekly pastoral visit to a hospital. When I entered her room, it saddened me to see her so thin. Her face clearly communicated the anguish and pain she was suffering. After greeting me and introducing herself, she started to cry. Through her tears, she told me she was afraid. When I asked why she was afraid, I realized it wasn’t a great question, as it seemed the answer was obvious. Regardless, she answered, and she said that she wasn’t sure what was going to happen to her and continued crying. I also asked what had happened to her, and as she explained her situation, I had to keep myself from crying with her. As we continued talking, I asked about her faith, and she told me she was Catholic. Before I left, I asked if I could read her a psalm and she enthusiastically agreed. I read it, explained its meaning a bit, and then asked if I could pray for her. She didn’t respond but closed her eyes right then. She thanked me for that visit and asked if I could find her a Bible so she could read it herself.
A week later, I visited the hospital again, but her situation hadn’t changed much. I didn’t get the chance to visit with her, because the nurse was in the room when I arrived. I could hear that she was crying out loudly in pain, and in that moment I stood in the doorway and prayed for her. The look on her face on that day stuck with me for several days, and I prayed for her often.
Two weeks after the second visit, I saw someone outside hospital sitting in a wheelchair and talking to a nurse. It was that same woman, and she was getting some sunlight and fresh air. I could see that she now had a bandaged leg that had been partially amputated. After the nurse left, I went to talk to her and was able to give her the Bible. She appeared much calmer but was still obviously recovering. I told her she looked better already, and she smiled, saying that she had had an infection in her leg, and she simply would rather live without a leg than to die of infection. Her response left me without words.
I saw that she had already been holding a book. When I asked what it was, she showed me the cover. It was titled You’re Not Alone. She told me it was a book of testimonies of people who had lost limbs and were determined to not give themselves over to death, but to continue their lives as if nothing had happened. I was very impressed. She mentioned that she was getting better and very close to returning home, and she realized that she was not the only person who had ever lost a leg. She said that she had to continue onward for her daughter and her mother, because her spouse had recently left her. I was profoundly moved by that conversation.
This woman taught me that I have no right to complain to God, as if the life I am living is unjust, much less that I deserve better treatment from God for being better than another. Like Isaiah 43:2 tells us, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Amen.
-Pastor Beto Alzate