Building One Another

E. Stanley Ott


February 17, 2015

Dear Friend,

 I was waiting  in the hospital for a routine blood test when I became aware of a strained mumbling voice nearby. Looking up I saw a good-looking man in his early 40's in a wheelchair having difficulty speaking and clearly sitting uncomfortably. An older gentleman, almost certainly his dad, was trying to arrange a supportive pillow behind his head. Then I saw the sign on the wall next to them, "Speech Therapy."

Something about it was unspeakably sad. I do not know if he is an injured veteran or suffering from some terrible affliction but this young man in the prime of life is in a deep hole and his father is in there with him.

As I was heading out of the hospital I was immensely aware of the gift of health and then of the thought, “Go back and say something.” I wondered what that would be and if it would be invasive. I paused puzzling and then headed for the exit except I found my legs taking me back the way I had come.

I knew somehow my mind was not directing my steps and I wondered what I would say. I walked right up to the old gentleman and his son looked them in the eye and said, "I feel impelled to tell you I am praying for you. May God bless you." The gentleman immediately and sincerely replied, “Thank you,” as he continued to adjust the pillow for his uncomfortable son.

This episode had nothing to do with me. My gesture of concern may have taken five seconds. That father is offering care 24 hours a day every day. The true paraclete, the one who comes alongside to help, comes alongside for the long haul.

God did want me to see something and to say something. I left overwhelmed with the feeling of sadness for this family and the deep awareness of those close to me and others who are in similar places of suffering.  

It may be a cliché to say it, but when our Lord said these words, he actually meant them, " “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens,” Matthew 11:28* "...weep with those who weep,” Romans 12:15 and “Comfort, O comfort my people” Isaiah 40:1.

Joy to you - E. Stanley Ott
Copyright 2015 E. Stanley Ott
*Scripture from the NRSV