Gracefully Broken Encounters

God's Word Offers Hope to the Bench Sitter

This post is for the one who sits alone … who needs to be reminded that our hope is in God.

Planned Encounter

This man sat on the bench outside the hospital today, alone, as I crossed the parking lot. So I called to him, “Hi there. I hope your day is blessed.”

He answered, “I’m pretty down right now.”

Instantly, I knew I should stop and maybe share some scriptures with him. I did have my Bible after all.

I halted my cadence, my Bible swinging in my hand. “Can I come share something with you?”

“I’m not so sure I want you to.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.” He motioned me on, like dismissing me from the conversation.

Not Planned Encounter

I marched inside the hospital, rode the elevator, and found myself at the nurse’s station on the fifth floor. I didn’t remember the room number, nor the name of my would-be-new-friend. So I was stuck.

I twirled like a top, rode the elevator back down the five floors, slid across the lobby, and headed to my car to text a pastor who knew the room number. Yes, my phone was in my car.

Of course, I never looked for his response after hopping from my car because I saw the man on the bench. He looked at the grass, pulled his sunglass off, and wiped his eye with his free hand.

I moved to him, “Hi, remember me?”

He glanced at me, but didn’t answer.

I went on. “You know, it’s pretty bad when you plan to visit someone and you don’t know his name nor his room number.”

“What?” His question was laced with that, go-away tone.

Encounter of Hope

So I stayed and sat on the bench next to him, explaining how my friend’s husband was ill, how he’d had surgery. How I’d never met him, and how I wanted to read a verse or two to him, too, once I found him.

He sighed, “So what would you share?”

“I’d share this.” I flipped open the pages and read:

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40: 28-31 NIV

The man put his sunglasses on, sniffled, and stood. I followed suit, standing, ready to go inside the hospital. The man touched my arm. “Who are you?”

“Just Pam. Why?”

“I needed to hear what you read. I’m flat worn out. My wife has been sick for months. It’s hard to watch her like this. And I need to remind her of how our hope is in God.”

We strolled together like souls who needed each other, who needed to find fellowship in trusting the Lord, in trials, in hardship, and in sorrow.

At the elevator, I still didn’t know where I was going, and my friend stepped inside. “Thank you for talking to me.”

“You’re welcome. I think we were meant to meet.” At that, the door closed to the elevator, and the man disappeared. I held my chest, my heart pounding, my tears flowing.

Planned Encounter Returns

Then I saw the sign, the one with an arrow to call the operator if you needed help. Looking at my phone, I remembered I had my friend’s cell and wouldn’t you know, her number included her (new to me) last name next to it.

So in minutes, I was inside the room on the fifth floor, and … yes, I’d also shared those same verses. I found myself weeping again as I spoke them. But now, I know my new-friend’s name!

Today, I felt gracefully broken by that bench-encounter, and realized once again how powerful the Word of God is to a heart. How powerful it is to mine!

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