The Lack in Our Lives
“‘I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me,’ declares the Lord” (Amos 4:6, NIV 1984).
He came to me in his early 50s for a routine checkup, but with unintentional weight loss. He laughed it off saying, “When there’s not a lot of food in the house, you tend to lose weight.” I returned to this comment at the end of his visit, “Do you really not have enough food to keep your weight up?” He admitted that a recent relapse in his bipolar disorder had put him through some hard times. He then agreed he would take home some leftovers from our office’s stock of drug company lunches. After I told my family about my patient’s plight, they felt for this man’s need, and we began dropping off groceries at his apartment and mailing him gift cards for grocery stores. Eventually, he invited us to his special events, and he started joining us at church. We had lunches out and opportunities to speak about the Lord as our friendship developed. He was interested in our help and our friendship, but he made it clear he did not feel the need for Jesus “just yet.”
In Amos 4-5, we read of God sending hunger and thirst, destruction, plagues, death of the young, war with narrow escape, pain, dreadful “natural” disasters, fear of the future, loss and grief in response to rebellion. Yet, the Israelites, over and over again, did not return to Him. Later, Amos 5:4 says, “This is what the Lord says to the house of Israel: ‘Seek me and live…’” (NIV 1984).
I suspect that most illness and tragedy is a result of sin in the world. However, as I read this passage, I wonder if sometimes that which we lack for fulfillment and the hard, painful things that happen in our lives, might not be God speaking to us, saying, “Come back, come near to Me, there is life here with Me, REAL LIFE. Seek Me and live.”
My first response to that which is missing in my own life is to fill up with other substitutes, substitutes that often lead to despondency rather than fulfillment. Could it be that the lack in my life is the Lord reminding me to be filled up with Him instead?
I think this is also true for our patients. In times when they experience lack rather than plenty, He may be drawing them to the fullness they can find only in Christ. Through pain, disease, hunger, loss, grief or disaster, He may be speaking. And He may wish to speak through us, granting us the privilege of gently reminding our patients that God may call us to Himself through the lack in our lives, where only He can fill the void.
Please help me understand that when I sense the lack in my life, you may be speaking and drawing me to you. May I never ignore what you are trying to say. Help me think through this as I minister to patients and, as you lead, to carefully speak of how you lovingly draw us to yourself.
by Lavonne Johnston, PA-C