Friday, May 9, 2014
Our New Ministry
Mike and I recently signed up to give communion at our local hospital. We have been wanting to volunteer together for awhile but couldn't quite agree on the right ministry. When an opening came up to distribute communion one Sunday a month it seemed perfect!
Last Sunday was our first time. I was soooooooooo nervous. Mostly I was afraid I wouldn't know what to say, or end up saying the wrong thing. At our training we received guidance on how to approach patients and a little booklet of prayers to say. Mike took the lead. I was the sidekick because I was WAY too nervous to do anything else.
When we arrived at the hospital we were given a list of 15 patients who identified themselves as Catholics. Some patients indicated they wanted a visit and others did not. We were told to pop in to everyone on the list, but were also warned that some patients may not be interested in a visit, prayer, or communion.
As we traversed the hospital we visited three different floors, including the intensive care unit. Some patients were grateful for a visit, and we prayed with them and chatted a bit. One lady had the Magnificat prayer book and the book Rome Sweet Home in her room. A few patients didn't want communion or prayer. We told them we would pray for them and moved along.
A few things stood out to me from these visits:
One - There are A LOT of people going through A LOT of suffering. I should be grateful for my blessings and my cross (ie. it could be worse).
This was one of those moments that put my suffering in perspective. While my cross feels heavy at times, others have very heavy crosses too. Probably even heavier than mine. The patients we visited were so frail and weak, and obviously in pain. I am a wimp when it comes to physical pain, and spending time in a hospital seems very lonely. Depending on the diagnosis, patients may be facing a very grim outlook. I have so many blessings in my health, husband, family, friends, and job. It was humbling to bring communion and pray. I felt silly to be so self-absorbed in my difficulties, when others are suffering so much.
Two - Jesus is here to walk with us, but only if we let Him.
Some of the patients on our list didn't want communion, and declined our offer of prayer. That made me sad. I know everyone has a different background and is in a different place when it comes to God, but I also know that faith can bring so much hope and peace to a difficult situation. I can't imagine going through life's ups and downs without faith. No one knows how much time they have on this earth, and it was tough to see these patients continue their journey without accepting our invitation for prayer (Of course, who knows what else was going on for them at that moment or that day. Maybe we just arrived at a bad time, or they had already had someone else visit).
Three - How many times have I rejected Jesus?
This is what really hit me. When I was reflecting on #2 above, I realized that I have rejected Jesus time after time in my life, in my own cross, in my own difficulties.
I have avoided prayer and distracted myself with other things. Yet, I know Jesus is there with His arms wide open. I have held grudges, tried to "get through it myself", and hardened my heart. Yet, deep down I know God is yearning for me to come to Him. I felt so ashamed and convicted for the times I have rejected God and not persevered in faith.
I'm so glad we committed to this ministry. Not only do we get to pray with patients, but I have a feeling this is only the start of God using this experience to help me grow too.