No one likes going to the hospital.
I know I don’t. No one really likes going to the hospital. You go to the hospital when you’re sick. When something is wrong with you, you go to see the doctor. When you need some surgery you go to where the surgeon is.
At the hospital one of the reasons we don’t like being there is that everything is just out there, there’s no real privacy. Everything that is part of our illness just kind of hangs out there. From iv’s and shots, to walking around in those crazy hospital gowns to the more personal need that often have to be met by others. But so often there is nothing that can be done about it, you go to the hospital because you’re sick, because you need help. Everything that comes with it, that comes with your illness, that comes with the help you’re receiving, are simply things we must deal with and learn to bear.
In the hospital there are doctors, nurses, aides, dietary techs, cleaning staff, all of these people and more who are with you and part of the process. What we hope is that throughout the process those that are there to help us, will be patient, professional, considerate and kind helping us through our weakest moments.
But one thing is common when we go to the hospital with our illness, our broken bones and everything else, we ask, can you help me?
“Jesus, help us!”
Those words coming from the ten lepers across the field calling out to Jesus, help us. Leprosy is just a horrible, bacterial disease that attacks the nervous systems and those that have leprosy experience disfigurement of the skin and bones, twisting of the limbs, and curling of the fingers to form the characteristic claw hand. Facial changes include thickening of the outer ear and collapsing of the nose.
Tumor-like growths called lepromas may form on the skin and in the respiratory tract, and the optic nerve may deteriorate.
This disease is contracted by multiple physical contacts with someone with leprosy and bodily fluids like sneezing that you come in contact with.
Leprosy is an illness that is on the outside, you can’t hide it. You can only hope that someone will show some kindness to you in the midst of your illness. For those lepers in the Gospel story they went to where kindness and help was found, where they hoped there would be healing for their disease. They went to see Jesus.
I remember saying these words years ago when I was so frustrated, up to here frustrated with a church situation I was dealing with. I was unloading on a pastor friend of mine and I said, this is a church, they should be acting better here! My friend kindly reminded me, that this was a church, that means it’s a hospital for sick people who don’t always know how to act better but they are coming to where the help is found.
Because Jesus is the only great physician, the only one who can heal all of our illness. Life has so many illnesses, there are the illnesses of the body, the mind and the spirit. But all illness show us our need for help from God who not only promises but gives healing and help to all that we are. This healing medicine that comes from Jesus comes to us so many beautiful ways: God’s very words that touch all that we are and bring us to Jesus, Jesus very body and blood at the altar in the bread and the wine given for our healing, the soothing consolation of the brothers and sisters in Christ who help to carry us along, the promise in the resurrection of Jesus Christ that all of our ailments will one day be completely healed, that even though we may die we live in Jesus.
Jesus is where our help is found and like the Lepers we cry out “Jesus, help us!” We come to the hospital where all of those healing medicines that are found in faith are freely given to all in need.
But what that also means is that the church, that is the fellowship of believers wherever they meet, is a hospital. We bring to this hospital all of our problems, all of our diseases, all of our needs and brokenness and bad behaviors, all of it. Some of it is hidden, but often we can’t hide it and it comes on the outside and just hangs out there for everyone to see.
Because the church is not a place where all of these picture perfect, completely healthy, plastic barbie and ken cookie cutter people hang out, what we find are broken, sinful, messy, sometimes ridiculously so, hard to deal with, letting it all hang out people, who are loved by God and who love God and come here because this where our doctor is.
Because the church is a hospital for sick people, that means at various times we will find ourselves sometimes more in the role of patient or sometimes more in the role of caregiver. Yes, we are here to have our wounds mended but we are also here to apply the healing medicine of Jesus to the wounds of the sick and hurting all around us. That is not always pretty.
But when we serve in that role as caregiver we look first to Jesus and see how He treats us when we are at our worst and then take that and care for the people in our own hospital in the same way.
Because when our hospital gown is open in the back, when we are sick as a dog and we just can’t control what’s coming out of our mouth, when our own sinful illness is in full swing and it’s all on the outside, what we need is compassion, a listening ear and attentive heart, someone that won’t throw our illness back at us but will help us clean up the mess. Most importantly, we need someone that will keep putting Jesus on all of our hurts, time and time again, for as long as it takes.
Because in the Church we are always both, patient and caregiver. If you get stuck only receiving but not giving your missing out on part of the healing process. If you get stuck only giving you’ll burn out and miss out on part of the healing process. Here to receive healing but also here to give healing in Jesus. Not only here to give healing but to receive it as well.
Knowing that all of us are both patient and caregiver, all here to receive the healing that only comes from Jesus. Be kind to each other, not one of us is different from the other, but we all are in the hospital together.
We all need some love.