By Joel A. Hess –
Keith was bent over with the pain. “Pastor! I’m scared.” They came in with cords and needles and tied him up as if they were tying up the illness. I held his hand and prayed. He squeezed tightly. All he saw was illness, pain, death, hopelessness.
I held his hand and told him what I saw.
I see heaven open and angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man. I see God on a cross, a dead man walking alive out of his tomb. I see the future, the sun, the devil destroyed and a new heaven and a new earth.
Gavin couldn’t believe it. He’d been unemployed for three months and had bills over his head. He had two kids to feed and a wife who had been in and out of treatment for depression ever since some drunk ran her off the road. He didn’t see much hope. He could barely see tomorrow. Where was God in all of this?
I took his hand, prayed, and told him what I saw.
I see a new heaven and a new earth. I see a river and trees with leaves that healed the nations. I see the hungry being fed, the lame walking, the unemployed working hard in Eden.
Debbie knocked lightly on the door as if she hoped I wouldn’t hear and she could leave. Come in. She entered. Sat down. Head drooped over.
“I have to tell you something.”
“I should have told you before when you were counseling us. I did have an affair.”
“It’s just after what Dustin did. I couldn’t forgive him. This guy really treats me well. I feel so ugly and dirty. I am so sorry. I’m so lost. She looked at herself. She saw an animal.”
I held her hand and told her what I saw.
I saw a child of God covered by the blood of Christ. I saw an unblemished lamb taking her place. I saw a woman resurrected without wrong desires running through her mind, without conflict or that inner civil war that leaves casualties every day. I saw a perfect relationship between man and wife, woman and God.
We all go through dark times. The devil tempts us to look down and to look inward and to stay there. Pain and suffering can mask the greater reality of Jesus’ reign that moves through this age, on course and on time. It is a reality that cannot be altered or moved. It is a reality independent of our actions, feelings, circumstances. So Paul says, “Nothing can separate us…”
God sends pastors, friends, prophets, brothers and sisters in Christ to tell us what they see, what God has given us to see for them. Every service of Word and Sacrament provides not an escape from our dark days, but a window to God’s reality—a reality we see by faith but one day we will see with our own eyes. Of course, Christ’s miracles and resurrection gave us concrete proof that what He says about the future will happen!
Even pastors need someone to take their hand and tell them what they see, what God sees. Sometimes we need that more than anyone.