Emergency Room Sabbath…
Three weeks ago I awoke on Sunday morning in excruciating pain. The discomfort could not be easily described except to say that its epicenter, so to speak, was left side abdominal and radiated outward, affecting sensitivity in my entire body. I have been forced to endure pain before, including bone, spinal, cartilage, muscular, and ligament injuries that caused difficulties for months at a time, but this was similar in feeling to the kind of pain I have experienced in the past with kidney stones or gall stones. It is, as others who have experienced I think would describe, an unforgiving and unrelenting pain with neither purpose nor hope of resolution. Before Monica took me to the emergency room, we paused for a moment so that my sons could administer by the priesthood a blessing of healing and comfort. My faith in Christ fully engaged, I knew these humble servants of the Lord had given me what was required for my healing and endurance of the trial at hand. The Lord Jesus Christ has power to heal the body and spirit of all the afflictions we experience.
Much of the pain and sorrow we experience in life is necessary for our growth and improvement. We cannot truly know the sweet without experiencing the bitter, and it is necessary for us to endure pain and suffering of body, heart, and mind in order for us to become more like our Savior, who endured all things. While immediately in my mind I felt confirmation of healing power in the blessing I received from my sons, I knew there were some lessons that I would have to learn before I would feel relieved in the body.
When I arrived at the emergency room, this still being the immediate aftermath of the Covid era, my dear Monica was not able to enter with me, but I was placed in a wheelchair and taken inside to wait. In the hours that followed, I was treated with respect and kindness by multiple attendees from clerks, nurses, and physician’s assistants. Even with that kind respect no relief by medication, nor even a bed upon which to lie was forthcoming. I sat silent in an uncomfortable wheelchair for a very long time, wishing so much that there was a clean corner on the floor somewhere I could just lay my head. So many were crowded into this small space, with cries of pain from some, and a sense of loneliness, even with us all together.
For me pain would plateau in excruciating intensity, and I would grow accustom to that feeling until it would begin to climb again, and make me just wish to crawl out of my body. When I felt I could bear no more, a claustrophobic kind of captivity to the pain overcoming me, I suddenly felt in my heart and spirit the words of the blessing spoken hours before, and I knew everything was going to be just fine. I am not certain if at that point the actual trauma was beginning to subside, but like turning on a switch, I felt a peace come over me that brought my spirit and body into unity of calm and comfort. In spite of the uncomfortable chair and the discomfort of a kidney stone, I felt a Sabbath feeling and knew that I was there in the hospital as much to minister as to be ministered to.
Soon, in this chaotic and crowded place, a sweet older sister and I were sitting and talking of Christ and His healing power. We both felt peace and comfort in talking of family, our lives, and of the Lord. I was grateful for that dear angel bringing purpose in what otherwise seemed like meaningless sorrow. Soon I noticed kind words being exchanged around the room and a transformation in the spirit of our feeling.
I am reminded of that story from the second chapter of the Gospel According to Saint Mark. Jesus was teaching in a crowded house in the Sea of Galilee village of Capernaum. It was so crowded that not another soul could get enter the door to be in the Savior’s healing presence. Into this circumstance was brought a man by his friends who was paralyzed. There was no doorway nor window where they could enter to bring their friend to be cared for by the Master Physician. They resolved to interrupt the chaos of this crowded place by breaking a hole in the roof, thus lowering their friend into the presence of the Lord.
“And they come unto Him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto Him for the press, they uncovered the roof where He was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, He said unto the sick of the palsy, ‘Son, thy sins be forgiven thee’” (Mark 2:3-5).
I am especially moved that the Savior put the paralytic man’s most important healing need first. He healed his heart by forgiving him his sins. Is not that the reason He came? It is tempting to look at this first act by the Lord as the beginning of the greater miracle. I am near certain that some who witnessed the event in person remembered more the miracle that followed than the most important miracle of all.
Of all the miracles of Jesus, the healings, teachings, the creation of the world, His every act during His pre-mortal, earthly and post-mortal existence, which is all things and time inclusive combined, are far exceeded by His atoning sacrifice. By the powers of priesthood and faith He was able to perform all His miracles, but only by His divine Sonship, His Godhood, could He lovingly perform the infinite all encompassing atonement for all, which granted the very power and exclusive right to forgive sins.
By faith and priesthood power we can perform acts in the Savior’s name to provide comfort and healing. We may and must forgive others their trespasses against us. Nevertheless, only the Savior, our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ, has the right and power to forgive sin, and He, in this paralytic man’s hour of need, gave him what he desired and needed most, forgiveness. It was only after that greater gift was given that He extended His hand and by faith and priesthood power granted the gift of healing the man’s mortal body.
“‘But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (He saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.’ And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion” (Mark 2:10-12).
Although I was not in that crowded house of Capernaum with the Lord, I too have been lowered from the roof into His presence, helpless and unable to provide my own strength, and my spirit is healed by His atoning sacrifice, by His grace, and as I seek Him, even unto forgiveness. We can all be like the paralytic man, or even like his savior friends, who by faith, brought him to the Lord, and be healed, and be forgiven, elevated back to Heavenly Father’s loving presence.
This is my psalm:
Oh, shall we sing a song of rejoicing to our Savior and King? Yay, sing we all in praise and gratitude, that our souls may be elevated with His, even unto His kingdom.
That Sabbath Day I spent in the emergency room was a day of healing, a day of enlightenment, a day when the most important miracle I received was the healing of my heart, of my spirit, even before my pain and symptoms were treated and healed also by kind ministers of medicine and faith. May we all recognize the most important healing we may receive of the Lord, that cleansing miracle that gives true peace and entry into God’s kingdom here on earth, and in the world to come. Jesus has redeemed me. For this, in humble gratitude, I am His witness. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.