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There Can Be Healing in the Listening
Monday, March 17, 2014

by Dr. Gary Yarbrough
Director of Pastoral Care
Shelby Baptist Medical Center

Are we immune to our feelings? Do we really believe what we believe?  What difference would it make in our lives if we were able to accept what we feel and act on what we believe?

Some time ago, I was speaking to someone who just wanted to talk with the chaplain.  When I get that type of referral, I never know what to expect.  As I approach and knock on the door, my prayer is simply: “Okay, LORD, go with me. You know the needs. I don’t.  Lead me while I’m here.”  So, these may not be the exact words that I pray, but they do convey what I’m usually thinking and praying in that moment.

At one point in the conversation, I asked: “I’m not the doctor, nurse or the social worker.  How can I help you?” The usual response to this -- and one I would estimate is the response 90% of the time -- is, “You can pray for me.” On this occasion, she surprised me and simply said, “You’ve already done it.”  Before she could finish what she was saying, I interrupted her non-verbally in my thoughts by thinking, “I haven’t done anything?"  She went on to tearfully say, “You’ve listened to me.” Yes, she shared a lot. It didn’t just ‘seem’ like she had a lot to share from years past to the present, but actually did have a lot to share. She didn’t feel comfortable sharing these burdens and concerns with her family, friends or pastor. Before the visit, we were strangers to each other. During the visit, we became sojourners together in pain, in faith and in hope.  Her request for a chaplain was a demonstration of her faith in the One who is ultimately in control over all things.  My response to her was a demonstration of my faith in the One who loves her and created her in His image. 

She thought she had been immune to her feelings for years. The emotional pain and hurt had been taking control of her body like a life threatening bacteria.  Before the end of the visit, she said there are things she still can’t remember from the past and admitted that it might be too painful for her.  Her faith began to overcome her fears and sorrow.  My hope and prayer is that there would be other sojourners of faith and hope to walk with her. 

Will you be that sojourner? To listen, to pray, to share words of God’s love, hope, peace and strength?  Or, perhaps, you would like someone to listen to your story?  


LORD of healing and life, may we be drawn to You with Your loving kindness. Your word tells us that ‘perfect love casts out fear’ (I John 4:18). As we come to know Your love and love You in return, grant us Your perfect peace amidst the storms of our lives. In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.


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