As I continue to serve, learn, and grow within my relationship with Christ, I am continuing to be amazed at how much awareness I have to my surroundings and the plight of others. I believe that I have always been observant of what goes on around me, yet I am realizing that I have been blind to a lot of situations too.
A few weeks my son came home sick from school. Fortunately, as a freelance creative communications consultant, seminary student and a pastor, I have some flexibility in my schedule each week. I was unable to get my son an appointment at our family physician’s office, so I decided to take him to the local Prompt Care Doctor’s Clinic. We arrived around 1:30 in the afternoon in the middle of the day during the middle of the week. The waiting area was full with almost every seat taken.
As I sat there with my son, we were both talking and using our smart phones to pass the time. I was checking email messages, reading ahead for sermon preparation, and reading the headlines on the news. After a while, I noticed that I kept hearing individuals walk up to the main window and the front of the office and ask, “How long will the wait be?” After a while, I seemed to keep hearing that question being continually asked. And, as my son and I kept waiting there, I noticed that it had been close to an hour and we still were not in an exam room to be seen by anyone.
Finally, after about an hour of waiting, we were called back into an exam room. Once we were in the room, a nurse came in, asked a few questions of my son and how he was feeling, she then took his blood pressure, weight, height, and checked his pulse and then she left and said, “A doctor will be in soon to see you.”
However, after a few long minutes, my son and I talked for a while and then both went back to our smart phones to pass the time. And time kept ticking by… and by… and by! We sat in the exam room for nearly forty minutes before the doctor came into see my son. I have to say that by this time, I was fairly agitated, but I kept my calm and was respectful with the doctor and staff. The doctor spent about five minutes with my son, said he had a sinus infection, gave us a prescription for antibiotics, and we were finally out the door.
As we were leaving the clinic, I saw a young mother and her two young children at the bus stop by the clinic and realized I had seen them earlier in the waiting room. I thought to myself, here I am with my son with my own car and some basic flexibility in my work week, and there is a Mother who is using the transit system to get around who is completely at the mercy of others.
The more I thought about this young Mother’s situation, the more I realized just how lucky I am. For me, I have a modest part-time Pastor’s salary, some freelance money that I earn, and a wife who works full-time with medical and dental benefits for our entire family of six. I have flexibility during basic parts of my work week in case of family needs, such as taking one of my kids to see the doctor. As I thought about how long my son and I had to wait to get into the clinic to see a doctor, I could not help to think what it must be like for this young Mother and so many others who rely on clinics to see a doctor to take care of their needs.
However, for many of these individuals, they work hourly paid jobs and when they are trying to take their child to see a doctor as I was, they had to use public transportation as well as wait in a clinic to be seen. But for me, I am still being paid the same amount of money as I take care of my child. This particular young Mother or someone else, would not be paid for the hours missed as they take care of their sick child.
We are surrounded by individuals who carry a much heavier burden upon their shoulders. Yet, as we all shop at the grocery story, or sit in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, or perhaps buy a burger at McDonalds, we do not see what is happening in the background of those around us. The stress, worries, anxiety, or pressure of trying to keep up with their basic family needs with a sense of dignity.
It is my prayer for myself, as well as my children whom I will continue to share life lessons, that we will never forget how short our wait in life is compared to others who have far more burdens than what we may carry. In Galatians 6:2 it says, “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” I read this passage much differently now. May God be with all those who try to manage so many challenges, and may they feel the presence of God’s grace and love surround them with an overpowering strength each week when they are asking, “How long will the wait be?”
Blessings, Pastor Kevin