“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” (Psalm 147:3-5)
It was Tuesday, and as was the methodical spiritual ministry of the pastor, it was one of two days dedicated to ministering to the seniors. The other day was Thursday.
The senior resident complex was adjacent to the church and offered 125 apartments for qualified seniors to live. It was conveniently located to shopping, close to public transportation, and provided a safe and nurturing environment for one’s golden years.
As was the minister’s custom, he entered into the lobby and greeted those individuals who were watching TV, performing their daily calisthenics, or socializing with one another. Once accomplished, he went to the manager’s office to sort through the weekly prayer request forms.
There was the usual prayer request from Myrtle requesting prayers for her family. Clifford—or as he was fond of declaring to anyone who would listen of his pet name “Cliffie” given to him by the ladies—asked for good health. And then there was Lilly petitioning for her unemployed eldest son, and that God would help him find a job.
The pastor adored Lilly. Her pearl of wisdom was “It is a great life, if you don’t weaken.” Somehow that always stuck with him.
And then, the minister came across a prayer request from a new resident. In scrawled writing it read, “Please pray so that I can thank God for the pain.” It was signed Earl, with a room number of 714.
Intrigued by this particular prayer request the dedicated pastor began making his rounds like a medical doctor visiting their patients, but inquiring about the spiritual health of each member of his flock. His commitment was to visit each resident once a month, but on this particular Tuesday, he was sidetracked from his routine. Today he determined within himself to visit Earl first, and delve into the prayer request that seemed so mature and powerful.
Knocking on the door, just beneath the brass numbers of 714, he waited. He heard movement from the other side of the door. Eventually the door opened, and there sat an African-American man in a wheelchair, who was obviously missing one leg.
Amputated just below the left knee.
The young minister adjusted his eyes downward and extended his right hand towards the man. “Earl?” he inquired. “I’m the pastor of the church just across the parking lot, and I was looking through the prayer requests and thought, if it is alright, to have a word of prayer with you.”
Earl invited his guest in and offered him a chair to sit in, and thus began a spiritual friendship between friend and friend.
They talked about family, life’s experiences and life in general. Earl shared that he grew up in the Midwest, was a mid-level manager at an automotive plant where he and his wife reared three sons.
His voice lowered to a whisper as he shared that his wife was gone. Fours years now this coming November.
The pastor asked about the sons and did Earl see them often? True to a caring and loving father, Earl offered, on their behalf, the loving excuse that they were leading their own lives and busy with their careers.
The pain of his loneliness registered across his face as his eyes became moist.
The minister remembered Earl’s prayer request about thanking God for the pain. “Earl,” the pastor continued, “I must admit that I was intrigued by your written prayer request. Do you mind sharing your thoughts about that request?”
“Sure, Pastor,” he responded. “I believe that pain is a blessing from God.” The young pastor's lack of understanding registered across his face.
Earl continued, “As you can see, I have lost my lower left leg due to an illness. I ignored the warning signs, and when I finally sought treatment for my pain, well...” He paused and pointed to the missing lower limb.
He continued, “Then it was shared with me by a medical professional, that pain is God’s way of telling us something is hurting and needs treatment. I reasoned that if it hadn’t been for the pain, I would never have sought help and, quite frankly, would not be talking to you right now. It was the pain that made me seek help and relief. Yes, I've lost my leg, but I'm here.”
Then, Earl leaned forward and looked full into the pastor’s eyes. His face was radiant. “One other discovery I made about pain my brother. Pain is also the messenger of God to let us know that we are healing and growing.”
“Besides,” as he looked over towards the pictures of his beautiful grandchildren, “if it wasn’t for the pain, I would not have the hope and joy of seeing my family soon, and looking forward to their hugs, laughter and kisses.”
“Therefore, you see pastor, please continue to pray for me that I would continue to thank God for the pain.”
And so he did because on that day, the young pastor aged and matured spiritually, as he became a little wiser sitting at the “feet” of a wounded man.
Born in Toronto, Canada, Brian Aird emigrated with his parents to Chicago, Illinois and eventually enjoyed the small town life of Wausau, Wisconsin.
Upon graduation from high school and one year of study at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, a 10-year commitment of service in the United States Navy was afforded which included many opportunities of education, life experience and travel.
After being honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy, he attended The Salvation Army School for Officer’s Training and was commissioned as an officer in The Salvation Army where he served in various communities throughout the western United States for a period of 12 years.
Following this life changing experience, the American Red Cross became a new arena of service for 10 years. Currently, his vocation is once again with The Salvation Army where he serves in Northern California as the business coordinator. Four lovely children and eight darling grandchildren decorate the lives of he and his wife.
He is an avid Green Bay Packers fan, enjoys the game of hockey and loves to write.
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