I am sitting in the doctor’s office waiting room, having driven my husband to his appointment. I don’t mind driving him and waiting as it gives me time to do one of my favorite things – people watch. This morning is no different, as there are a number of people waiting their turn to see the doctor for their allotted 10 minutes.
There is the woman who is in obvious pain from what appears to be a migraine. She has on dark sunglasses to block out as much of the light in the room as possible. She leans her head onto her hand; occasionally she makes a low, moaning sound as the pain becomes almost more than she can tolerate. I wonder to myself what has triggered her migraine and having suffered from migraines myself in the past, I say a prayer for her. Should I have offered to pray with her right there in the waiting room?
The obese woman sitting in the corner by herself looks so very miserable. Is her obesity caused by a medical condition? Or does it cover up emotional wounds that she has never faced? There is a self-imposed wall surrounding her that I can feel from where I sit. It is as if her obesity is a fortress – keeping her locked in and others out. Should I have told her how much God loves her and how beautiful she is to Him?
Then there is the elderly man who cannot walk on his own. His legs are four wheels on a chair that his daughter pushes while his wife walks alongside. This man has a twinkle in his eye that sparkles like diamonds. His smile radiates around the room and his laughter is infectious. Life has dealt him some blows, obviously. His body has begun to betray him, hence the wheelchair. As I listen to him repeat his sentences frequently, I realize that his mind, so sharp in youth, has begun to play tricks on him. He still has a lively, contagious sense of humor. He wonders out loud why he is “there to see the doctor about my hip when it is my head that hurts!” His daughter tells him that “his hip bone is connected to his head bone” – like the old song we all sang as children – and he laughed happily. In a few minutes he wondered out loud why he is “there to see the doctor about my hip when it is my head that hurts!” As I watched his wife and daughter, their faces slightly fell as they realized, not for the first time I’m sure, that his mind continues to slip away a little more each day. His sense of humor prevails as he said (more than once) “I’m here to see Dr. Nee about my hip pain.” And he would laugh uproariously. Should I have shown my support to the wife and daughter by reminding them that God is their strength?
These people caused me to think about how we, as Christians, can and should be a witness of God’s love, care and mercy. Every day, everywhere we go there are many people who need an encouraging word or a friendly smile. And yet, we are usually so busy with our own life and our own schedule that we are not even aware of those around us, much less what they may need at the very moment our lives collide, however briefly. God has called us to be His light to the world but how can we when we are moving at warped speed? What if we are the only Christian who crosses that person’s path that day? What kind of witness would we leave with them?
“But I’m so busy. I have to go here, do this, do that, see this person and that person….” I understand busy – believe me, I do. But if we are so busy that we cannot take a moment to speak to someone in kindness, we are too busy. If we are so distracted that we cannot smile at a person who so obviously needs encouragement, we are too distracted. If we are so rushed that we cannot offer up a brief prayer for someone who is in pain, we are too rushed.
“What would Jesus do?” became a popular saying a few years back and it is an excellent question to ask ourselves. Had I asked myself that question in the doctor’s office that day, I would have known what I should have done. Because Jesus would have prayed with the lady who had the migraine, He would have told the obese woman how much He loved her and how beautiful she was to Him, and He would have laughed with the elderly gentleman and shown His support to his wife and daughter.
Beginning today I’m going to be more aware of the people around me who need encouragement, whose spirits need lifting. And I am going to be His light to them. I challenge you to do the same.
(c) 2008 Edwina E. Cowgill
© 2008 Edwina E. Cowgill