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Making The Sickrooms Bearable

Browsing in a London bookstore last summer, I ran across a little volume by Mrs. Leslie Stevens, called Notes from Sickrooms. It was a volume of instructions for domestic nurses. My eye fell upon this passage as I looked through it:

“When an illness has gone on for some time, the sick person becomes very weary of the things that surround her. She has looked at all the pictures which hang on the walls and at the patterns which ornament or disfigure the paper till she can bear them no longer. The nurse cannot, of course, alter all these things, but she can give them a certain change in the aspect of the room. A looking glass, so placed that it can reflect the sky and the trees–or if the sufferer is in London, some portion of the street–will be a refreshment to the eyes which have for so long not pierced beyond the narrow boundary of the sickroom.”

The older pastor will recognize in these words something central to the business of ministry. We cannot remake the world in which our people live, despite all our youthful ambitions. In fact, one of the persistent ingredients of despair over the years will have been a sense of inadequacy to affect any change at all.

But one learns in the course of living how to work with the looking glass, to make things more bearable for those who suffer, to reveal to them new vistas–perspectives they've never seen, ways of looking at the world so they can see the world for the first time since they were children. And who knows but that in the course of making the world look new, it actually becomes new and moves closer to the kingdom of God.

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— John R. Killinger, JR. “The Season of Youth,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 60.

See: Jer 3:15; Jn 21:17; 1 Pe 5:2.