BY DAN RUTH
Until I met John’s family, I had thought of Psalm 23 as “nice,” but my faith had never had to really grapple with its true weight. I was working as a hospital chaplain and John was a 15-year-old patient, a twin. When I responded to the request for a chaplain on John’s unit, I was pushed aside by nurses and surgeons, beeping carts filled with every instrument imaginable trying to stop John’s congenital blood disease from stripping away his life.
Amid the noise and chaos of the hospital room, I noticed a small group of people huddled together at the end of the hall, their faces white with panic. John’s family. Having no idea what to say or do, I trudged down the hall and introduced myself, quietly waiting for word from one of the doctors. We waited, and then waited some more. The only thing I could think of was Psalm 23. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me…”
I never met John. In the hours following his death, I sat with his parents and his twin in the dimness of an abandoned waiting room. It was the darkest valley of their life. There was nothing I could say; there was no Bible verse to ease the pain of this untimely death. There was only the promise of God’s presence there with them, walking alongside them.
“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:20
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The path to recovery in Haiti is a slow one. Over the past months, dozens of news accounts have criticized the lack of progress in the aftermath of last year’s earthquake. With headlines like “World Turns its Back on Haiti” peppering our newsstands and computer screens, it’s easy to give up hope.
Yet, as people of faith, we hear Jesus’ words at the end of Matthew echo the promise of Psalm 23: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley … you are with me.” This promise of presence is often the greatest gift that can be given. I am with you. I am here. It is the promise that Jesus gives us every moment of every day.
Because of Jesus’ lasting promise, Lutheran World Relief is able to promise the same to the thousands of people it works with around the world. When news accounts around the country focus on the abandonment of places like Haiti, LWR stands strong in its promise. We’re here to give you a warm Quilt and some soap to clean yourself with. We’re here to help you find meaningful work to support yourself and your family. We’re here, and we will not abandon you.
God of grace, you are here, and for that we give you thanks. You have walked with us through the hardest of times, and your lasting promise gives us life. Help us give the gift of presence to others when they need it, knowing that in your namewe’ll never abandon them. You restore our soul. Through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. AMEN.
Dan Ruth is LWR’s Interactive Marketing Manager