We have a group of ladies that sew quilts and knit prayer shawls for our patients at Froedtert Hospital. Sometimes we offer the quilts and prayer shawls to patients. Sometimes patients ask for them.
The other day a patient requested a prayer shawl and I delivered it to her. She wasn’t in her room and I thought I could just leave it on her bedside table and she would find it when she returned to her room. Instead of doing this something made me try to see if she was out walking in the halls. The halls were empty but I saw a lady sitting in the lounge and when I called her name she said that she was the one who wanted the prayer shawl.
As I sat with her she began to talk about her distress. She has been battling her cancer for over six years now. She has found that the side effects of her treatments have often been worse than the cancer. She is wondering more and more if she should give in to the cancer and let her sufferings end. As she has voiced some of her discouragement to trusted friends in her church they have said she is not being Christ like when she expresses anger and discouragement.
This brought our conversation to the subject of Job and how his friends made him feel worse instead of better by also saying things that hurt him rather than helped him. We pondered how God spoke to Job and basically told him the meaning of suffering is so complex the human mind cannot comprehend it but God didn’t criticize Job for trying. Job was comforted in knowing that God saw him. God was with him causing Job to say, “I have heard about you with my ears, but now I have seen you with my eyes.”
As our conversation drew to a close she asked me to pray with her. I prayed that the prayer shawl would be a comfort to this lady. I prayed for wisdom for her to decide what she wanted to do in terms of future treatments. I prayed that she too would see God with her eyes as Job had seen God.
As I looked at her at the end of our prayer tears were streaming down her cheeks and we ended by hugging each other. All she asked for was a prayer shawl. What she really wanted was a visit and a chance to bare her soul.
It reminded me that we often ask for a crust of bread when we really need the whole loaf. Keep that in mind the next time someone says, “Have you got a minute? Can I share something with you? When a child tugs on our pant leg and says, “Do you want to play with me?”
Lots of people are looking for prayer shawls but hoping they will get the person who brings the shawl.
So God bless all those ladies who knit those shawls and pray for the people they will never see receive them. And God bless all of us who hear the heart asking for the shawl and realize that they are asking for so much more.