pastoral/spiritual care

God Hears Our Hearts

Recently, I visited a patient who had suffered a stroke.  Her difficulty communicating was frustrating for both of us, but especially for her.  I could see her brow furrow with the effort of trying to get her point across to me.  All I knew was that she had wanted the chaplain to visit her.  I did not know why.  Though her mouth moved and she was making sounds, I was not able to discern words in them.  For several minutes, she tried to speak and I tried to understand.  Finally, I was able to make out one word: “Pray.”

“Do you want me to pray with you?” I asked her.  She vehemently nodded her head and a look of relief spread across her face.  At last I had understood something of what she wanted to say!  I grasped her hand and we prayed together.  When I finished she had tears streaming down her cheeks, and the distraught look she had on her face when I entered the room had been replaced by a smile.

It was hard for me to know what to say in my prayer for this woman.  Usually, I ask patients what specifically they would like to pray about, but that was next to impossible in this case.  What cheered both of us, I think, was knowing that whatever communication difficulties she was having with me and others who came into her room, there were no such barriers between her and God.  The assurance that God understands her every need perfectly seemed to be a great comfort to her, as I believe it would be to me if I were in her situation.

Even for those of us who can speak plainly, truly communicating can be challenging.  There is so much room for misunderstanding and misinterpretation in what we say to one another.  The feeling that no one truly understands us can be frustrating and isolating, just as it was for my patient.  But we, too, can rest secure in the knowledge that God hears what we do not know how to put into words.  A misunderstanding with a coworker, a spouse who never seems to listen, a child who lets our words go in one ear and out the other, a friend who cannot see our point of view – God is intimately familiar with each of these situations.  And when we pray about these things, we can trust that God can look at them from all possible angles, and hear what everyone involved is not saying.  Being our Creator, God knows us even better than we know ourselves, and there is never a communication barrier between us and God.

God, thank you for hearing the unspoken and unspeakable prayers of our hearts.  We need your help to truly communicate with one another.  Help us to be patient, understanding, and loving, just as you are with us.  Amen.

-- Chaplain Stacy N. Sergent


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