Lynell Bergen is Outreach Coordinator for Hope Centre Ministries and author of the following:
This week I visited one of the Hope Centre members in the hospital. I’ll call her Sara. Sara is in considerable pain, at times. And because of her intellectual disability, Sara is not able to be stoic, to accept that pain is a part of life. She cannot deal with her pain rationally.
She cannot understand that the people around her are not able to relieve her from pain, at least not all the time, and that fact actually increases her suffering, because she gets so angry and so upset at the failure of those around her to do for her what she needs done.
So Sara is often angry when people come to visit her, and she may swear at them, or tell them to “Go home!” in no uncertain terms. We are all useless to her, because we cannot do what she most needs us to do for her.
When I first arrived one afternoon this week, Sara was once again in pain, and therefore understandably upset. And I knew that she was not really angry at me, so I didn’t take it personally. But it was frustrating because I didn’t feel I could do anything to make her feel better. So after awhile, I went to get a health care aide, because I knew if they moved her a bit, it might relieve some discomfort.
The aide came, and began to move Sara, but the moving itself caused her even more pain, and she yelled, and tried to scratch the person who was helping her. Sara only experienced the immediate pain. She couldn’t understand the gain that would come from it. She couldn’t comprehend, and she therefore did what she could to defend herself against the person she perceived was trying to hurt her.
Less than five minutes after the aide left, Sara was much more comfortable, and smiling, and we talked, and I sang hymns to her, one after another. And she protested when I got up to leave – “stay here, sing some more” And as I prayed with her, she loudly joined in with her own prayer: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
I think her intellectual disability makes it difficult, if not impossible, for Sara to be an Easter person in the midst of Good Friday moments. That doesn’t mean she loves Jesus less or that her faith is less sincere. When she is in “Easter mode” she can be there in a big way!
What do I learn from Sara? That being in Good Friday mode is painful, not only to myself, but to others around me. But that there may be times when I can’t be anywhere else, because there may be times for all of us when we can’t see Easter.
But when I do have the chance to get to Easter, we need to celebrate, in a big way. And I need to sing until my voice is gone, and I need to declare loudly, for all to hear, that “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”