Friday, October 14, 2016

Surgery Thanksgivings and Thoughts

On October 4th I had knee replacement surgery to fix an old injury from high school. Here are a few thanksgivings and thoughts about that:

1. Thanks be to God. He understands all suffering and keeps His promises to be with us in it and ultimately to save us from it.

2. Thanks to my wife, Carol, my faithful helpmate and supporter. Experiences like this give couples a wonderful opportunity to live out their faith and love together. Also thanks to my family who kept me in their prayers.

3. Thanks to our church, for your prayers and for fellow church servants who made this time off worry free.

4. Thanks be to God, who gives us such amazing medical technology. Special thanks to surgeon Dr Don Johnston (GSLC member). He is excellent in his skills, tells it like it is, and encourages you all the way. Also thanks to the physical therapists who know how to keep pushing through the pain... and for Vicodin!

5. I started out as a pastor when I was 26 years old. From the very beginning I have helped people through very painful (far more painful than this) experiences, and, of course, the process of death itself. I have always been keenly aware that I have had very little personal experience with physical pain and suffering. That has been a wonderful gift that God has given me. But that lack of experience doesn't necessarily disqualify someone from helping people through painful experiences. God is really the one who helps us. As a pastor I have always believed that it is the overall ministry of Word and Sacrament that helps people in their times of trouble. When a pastor walks into a hospital room, he brings with him the Pulpit, the Altar, the Baptismal Font, the Confirmation Class, the Bible Classes, etc. - that is, he brings the whole ministry of God to the bedside. Pastors are constantly preparing people for all the hardships of life. If your pastor tells you a hundred times in a hundred sermons, "Cling to Christ," he really doesn't need to say much in the hospital room. His very presence is simply a reminder of this main message. The test of any ministry is not how many people it attracts to the pews. The test of any ministry is how it holds up in the hospital room, how it holds up in the face of suffering and hardship, how it holds up in the face of confusion and temptation. I am so thankful for the ministry that we are privileged to have in our church. It is a very basic ministry - a ministry of repentance, forgiveness, and trust in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It's not flashy. But it is faithful, and you will be so happy to have it when the doctor says, "I'm just going to give you something to relax..." That is for the body, but the ministry of Word and Sacrament is for the soul. Every personal and family devotion, Sunday worship service and Bible class has been getting me ready for this day and will get me through whatever lies ahead. I always believed this was true. It is what I've always told people. Now, in a small way, I can say "I personally know it is true."

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