There is a great difference in excellency, usefulness, and comfort between people of clear, digested knowledge, and confused, undigested apprehensions. -Richard Baxter

at bedside with Hannah, part II

I went back to visit Hannah again this afternoon, still perturbed by the fact that I could feel sweat rolling down my back and it was a third of the way into November. I keep waiting for Fall to stop being so spineless and stand its ground. Summer’s had its day and is now acting like those people in your life who utter protracted, aimless monologues at you, like they’re trying to make up for lost time when they were a child.

I digress.

Hannah was her jovial self, but not in an over-the-top, “you are from another planet” way. She’s just optimistic and, to be honest, it was rather refreshing to hear someone whose outlook wasn’t so bleak.

She’s been there almost two weeks now and will likely go home Friday.

But I write not to tell you of minutiae but to continue the story that continues to unfold for her…and I think also for yours and my benefit, courtesy of our Maker.

Last night, a number of nurses were visiting her to check on her progress. When the small contingent had finished their review, one stayed back, and waited for the rest to depart. Hannah had never had a conversation with this young nurse before, but without hesitation, the young woman came right out and asked Hannah if she would help her understand Scripture. She owned a KJV but with her family back on another continent, she had no one here with whom she could share her desire to understand Scripture’s overall message.

Hannah, wide eyed at the fact that she’d never spoken with this woman before, began a simple explanation of the Gospel. In time, the nurse seemed to grasp Hannah’s unvarnished, extemporaneous retelling of the grace of God.

Hannah, as you may remember from the last post, had prayed for another nurse’s pregnancy in recent days, but somehow knowledge of Hannah’s knowledge of Scripture had found its way to this other nurse. And now this second nurse, desirous to get beneath the surface of the Biblical text, sought her out–this octogenarian undergoing some pretty grueling physical therapy each day.

Hannah’s exasperation early into her hospital stay stemmed from the sense that she was of no purpose in present circumstances. Praying for the pregnant nurse began to chip away at that notion; this second encounter put it to rest.

It’s what she said in passing that stays with me: the joy in being available to the Father for His purposes made her pain bearable. She hadn’t sought the pain; she wasn’t relishing the pain; but the engagement in representing Him in whatever way she was able did something to the pain. I doubt it acted like some sort of analgesic, but it did make its size and significance begin to shrink.

Hannah is what you call “abiding” in Him. It’s no opiate, but it is the way to being included in His work, which has the interesting capacity to make whatever suffering therein mysteriously more, as she said, bearable.

thus endeth her lesson today….


  Small Groups Nazi wrote @

Thanks for sharing that great story, Patrick. I like this part, “Hannah’s exasperation early into her hospital stay stemmed from the sense that she was of no purpose in present circumstances.”

How many times have I felt the same way? The frustration of wondering what God’s purpose is for me in my current situation. What’s worse is, how many times have I not even cared enough to wonder if there is a purpose? Yet, the Holy Spirit still continues to work through our circumstances, regardless of our awareness or concern. It’s like He sees the bigger picture for us or something. Amazing.

  Patrick Lafferty wrote @

i stood there listening to Hannah and thinking to myself, “oh how little I really understand waiting and trusting.” I was the one more in need of a visit from her than vice-versa.

  Forky wrote @

That’s just…swell! Thanks for the story.

  Lindsay wrote @

I really liked this entry! It’s quotable! I sent Sara K this quote yesterday and thought it also made sense with the blog today:

“In essence, there is only one thing God asks of us-that we be men and women of prayer, people who live closely to God, people for whom God is everything and God is enough. That is the root of peace. We have that peace when the gracious God is all we seek. When we start seeking something besides Him, we lose it. As Merton said in the last public address before his death, ‘That is his call to us-simply to be people who are content to live close to him and to renew the kind of life in which closeness is felt and experienced.'” -Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

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