The patient was telling me about a time in her life about thirty years ago when she had found out that her husband had ALS and it was only a matter of a year or two and she would be losing him. As she was trying to take care of him as his health deteriorated her young daughter developed a fever. As her fever went up to 107 degrees she rushed her to the hospital. They packed her in ice and gave her antibiotics but nothing seemed to be working.
As she left the hospital that night she stood in the parking lot and looked up at the stars and she screamed. “Why are you doing this to me?” “Isn’t it enough that I am losing my husband? Are you going to take my daughter too? What did I do to deserve this? How much more do you think I can take?” She screamed. She cried. She let it all out. She didn’t care if anyone saw her. She didn’t care if anyone heard what she was saying. She was at the end of her rope. She couldn’t take it any more.
The next morning a doctor from Children’s Hospital in Chicago came to take a look at a sick baby at this hospital and while he was there he was persuaded to look at the girl with the uncontrollable temperature. He came to the conclusion that this girl had legionnaire’s disease. She was transferred to Children’s Hospital and treated with different drugs and within days she was better.
As I listened to this lady’s story I began to wonder if her cancer was a small thing compared to what she had already suffered in losing her first husband and struggling to raise her children by herself and deal with all their questions as they grew up wondering why God had taken their daddy from them.
And it raises lots of questions about screaming our lungs out. Are we just wasting our breath when we yell into the skies? Was it coincidence that the doctor came to this lady’s daughter’s bedside or was it an answer to her prayer? Should we who try to avoid suffering block out the cries of the suffering or should we listen to those screams coming from the parking lot and do what we can to alleviate the pain of those who can’t take any more? Should those of us who hear this story years later listen politely or enter into this person’s life and thus let them know their story is valid. Does the repetition of the story continue to release the pain of the original event and help the story teller see that God does see and God does hear and God does care?
Ponder these questions with me so that if you meet a screamer you won’t run away. Or if you feel like screaming know there is someone who will hear you and help is on the way.