Last weekend, the first weekend in November, I was in Portland, OR, for a Northwest District Board of Directors’ meeting. After the meeting I rode to Seattle with pastor friend, Rev. Ted Werfelman, so that I could fly back to FL from the SeaTac airport. However, being in Seattle also gave me an opportunity to visit St. John member and personal friend, John Glaser. As you know, John was severely burned in an accident at his home in Palmer on October 5. John has been in the Harborview Hospital burn unit in Seattle since that accident.
I had heard from John’s wife, Cathy, that the doctors were saying John had burns over 40% of his body. But, I wasn’t sure what that meant until I got to the hospital. Most of John’s body, from his waist down, seemed to be bandaged. In addition, John’s right arm was also wrapped in bandages. I didn’t expect to see John with that many bandages. His burns were obviously worse than I had expected.
John was sleepy when I visited. Not only was he medicated, but, he also indicated to me that it was hard to sleep because of the noise of the hospital. Nevertheless, I read Psalm 46:1 to John. We talked and we prayed.
What perhaps surprised me the most, however, was John’s response to his accident. Time and again John told me, “God is so good.” More than once John shared, “I’m so thankful for the church and all they have done for us.” The church has tried to help John and Cathy in a number of ways. However, people do not always respond to a tragic, painful injury the way John was responding.
Often when people face trials and injuries, they are full of questions. After all, God promises to care for His people. We don’t want and don’t expect trials and troubles. But, we do live in a world of sin. Our challenges in life are part of the result of the sin in the world, and the sin in our own lives. That is why when people face illness, difficulties, and trials, I often encounter doubts and anger. “How could God allow this to happen? Where was God when I needed Him? Doesn’t God love me?” Actually, these questions are understandable.
Therefore, I read Psalm 46:1 to John. Our Lord tells us in that verse, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” The author of Scripture assures us, not only that He does help us, but when we are in trouble God has not left us. When we are in trouble, God is not only a help, but an “ever present help.” In other words, when we need God, He is really present in our lives to help us.
I told John that he could only speak praises to God, and be thankful for God’s church, because of His faith. John knew that our Lord keeps His promises to be present in our lives, to love and help us. But, in this world of sin, when trial and tragedy hit, God also has the ultimate answer to our questions and doubts in Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God who came to this world bringing love, healing, and most importantly, salvation. Jesus took on our suffering. Jesus paid the price our sins deserve. The illnesses, injuries, and setbacks are not the end of life. In Jesus, God has won eternal life for all who believe.
John not only knew the truth of Psalm 46, he also knew and trusted God’s truth from Romans 8. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 37-39) Nothing separates us from God’s love, not even the trials of life.
In my many years of serving as a pastor I have visited many people in hospitals. Interestingly, when I come to bring help and comfort to God’s people, I often find these visits work the other way around. Their faith strengthens me. John already knew the truth of Psalm 46, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” This truth of God’s help in our lives is especially shown through God’s love in Jesus. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What a blessing and strength to know that in the trials of life God is with us to help us, and to save us!