It's the middle of the afternoon, and the room is full to the brim; coughing, moaning, and a general feeling of malaise fill the air. Patients are lined against the walls in wheelchairs, stuffed into every corner and crevice imaginable. Some are pushed up to small tables as they lay practically prostrate across the table trying to mimic the rest that will never come.
When I survey those around me, there are those who are obviously hurting. Some are coughing uncontrollably, puking into bags, buckling over in pain. Many are clearly weary and aggravated, others are so exhausted and drowsy they can't keep their heads up. There are some holding a compress to contain the blood, but of course they are helpless to stop it entirely.
My heart hurts looking around here. There's a grandmotherly lady who is so sick, she can't hold her belongings to herself and keeps dropping things, powerless to pick them up. I know my mother in law is nervous about me picking them up for her, as she's been hurling into a plastic bag all afternoon. In between her heavy breathing, she always mutters, "Thank you, baby." There's another man here with some sort of autistic-type of social disorder. He falls apart if the nurse moves him to another spot other than the one he was in. He's here completely alone. Another grown man is holding ice to his forehead while he rocks himself for comfort.
Conversely, a good many appear "normal" on the outside. The only way I can tell they are patients is because they are in the transport wheelchairs. But it occurs to me that they are here for a reason...surely they have other things to do on a Wednesday afternoon. Their signs of illness are hidden to my eyes, but just as dangerous and debilitating as the others. Perhaps their impetus includes unexplainable pains, spiking fever, kidney malfunction, or internal bleeding. I know from hearing them talk that there is one who has acid reflux burning his insides and another whose blood sugar is plummeting.
One thing they all have in common: ALL of them have no hope for a room.
The hospital is full, and every room in the ER is equally occupied. They have patients waiting to get into a hospital bed, but until a regular room opens up, they can't leave ER. This leaves a gridlock in the waiting area.
This has me thinking.
What does God see when He looks at mankind? Broken people, hurting. Emotionally nauseated and spiritually dehydrated. Weary and troubled from the heavy burden and the rugged road of life. Drug addiction. Violence addiction. Skin addiction. Some ailments are outside, evident. Most are inside, and the outward expression of it is masked, hidden from view.
The internal ailments are just as debilitating as the external ones. Lust for power, pleasure, or possessions can be undetectable to a casual observer. Pride can escape the scrutiny of a human bystander. Evil thoughts are imperceptible to others. Anger and hatred can be harbored in the heart, unseen by mere mortals. Self-centeredness has been an effective tool used to break up churches and families alike.
We all suffer from a different combination of afflictions, but one thing is common for us all in this life: we have no hope for a place of rest.
This hospital room is a tangible narrative of the plight of all mankind. We are without treatment, without a cure for our maladies. And without a hope for rest and freedom from our infirmity.
Until the Great Physician peruses the wheelchair-filled halls. He approaches each patient, kneels down before them humbly, smiles tenderly, and offers His Remedy.
He provides us His healing balm, not just a bandaid or a pain pill to numb reality. He's got the true fix. The only medication for the hurt that always leads to death.
Sadly, so many will turn Him away. They don't understand the healing power He is offering, or the outrageous price of it, so they stick with what they know. They continue to try to manage the pain, the addiction, the restlessness on their own.
They are completely unaware of the astonishing relief being furnished.
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Equally, those who would refuse this treatment are unaware of their inability to pay for it. For this Remedy is exceedingly expensive and precious...but unlike most earthly things which are expensive because of their rarity, this gift is abundant. It is rare in the sense that it has only One Source, but that Source is inexhaustible. He is a never-ending supply of life-giving water.
"...but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:14
And those who drink from it will find the peace, rest, and comfort for which they have so longed.