“I trust this morning you are feeling much better!” were the words that greeted me via a text from a friend. Unsure of how to respond, I waited. Strangely enough, that text did not encourage or lift my spirits as I’m sure it was intended. It also didn’t give me much opportunity to provide an honest response.
You see, I wasn’t feeling any better. In fact, I was feeling even worse and had just returned from yet another visit to the doctor to find out that that not only was my originally diagnosed pneumonia not improving, but I had also picked up the flu somewhere along the way.
I was normally a very healthy woman. I saw the doctor once a year for well-check visits. WELL-CHECK…not sick visits. I ate right. I exercised regularly. And I never missed work because I was ill. I was used to being the doctor for my patients.
Yet somehow, this time, even I succumbed. Before all was said and done, I spent nine weeks battling pneumonia, the flu, bronchitis, and a relapse of pneumonia. The doctor put me on several weeks of mandatory bed rest. Even then it took much longer than that before my lungs returned to complete health, and longer still to regain my full strength and stamina.
For one who was used to doing, being active, and being the encourager for others, it was not only physically difficult being ill, but emotionally painful being secluded from others. Some friends and family prayed and checked in with me almost daily—that was the greatest gift. It let me remain connected despite my inability to get up or out.
Others came to our home and brought meals, yet showed sensitivity to our needs and didn’t linger and stay. They knew I was tired, and breathing was effortful enough—talking and breathing at the same time was more than I could handle. Their sensitivity to that factor was priceless.
One dear friend dropped everything without any advance notice to take me to the medical center for emergency care when I couldn’t reach my own family and I was left at home without a vehicle. I found out later that she had her own crisis issues going on, yet she became the very tangible hands and feet of Jesus when her sister in Christ needed help.
Yet some who I thought might show care or concern, responded with comments that suggested they truly didn’t understand or perhaps didn’t want to be inconvenienced. One friend messaged with, “Doing well today, friend?” but her question stifled my answer because I knew what the “right” answer was, the acceptable answer. The implied message was that she didn’t really have the time or desire to hear if my answer was anything but “yes.”
My whole bout with this illness left me pondering just how we are to reach out to those in need. My first thought was of the Samaritan man. He was one who took the time to stop. He took the time to care. He took the time to be inconvenienced, even when others hadn’t.
And the more I thought about some who really impacted my life during my most painful, most lonely days, the more I thought about the friends who went to the extreme effort of lowering their sick friend down through the roof to ensure that their friend would get to Jesus. I had friends who kept their phones by them at night in case I had a breathing crisis and needed someone to pray; friends who prayed Scripture over me; friends who brought meals when they realized I was ill and then realized I had relapsed and remained ill and kept the meals coming. I had friends who took the time to regularly check in with me to see how I was, and encourage my heart.
“There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24 NLT)
During the hardest times in life we are given not only the responsibility but also the privilege of being the hands and feet of Jesus to minister to others in their need.
So often, the reason is we don’t know what to do to help another, and so we do nothing at all. In part 2 of this post, I’ll give practical ways we can extend help to a friend in need.
In the comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts regarding ways others have been the hands and feet of Jesus to you when you were in need. Your comments just may be the solution someone else is needing!
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
A short brief about Hope Prevails.
Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Speaking from personal and professional experience, a neuropsychologist unpacks what depression is, shows how it affects us spiritually, and offers hope for living the abundant life.
Neuropsychologist Offers Hope to Those Struggling with Depression
-By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide
- An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression
- As with the bestselling My Stroke of Insight, the author experienced the same condition she treats
- Helpful features include personal stories, biblical truths, prayers, and music recommendations
In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion and empathy, blending her extensive training and faith, to offer readers a hope that is grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is a treatment plan that addresses the whole person—not just chemical imbalances in the brain.
For those who struggle with depression and those that want to help them, Hope Prevails offers real hope for the future.
Hope Prevails is available now wherever books are sold. To find out more, see: http://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/.