It came to me in the middle of the night.
Philippians 4 verse 8.
Not the whole Scripture – just those words. Not a voice, just a thought, giving me a reference in the still of the night that stayed with me until I woke.
Anytime I get Scriptures in the night like that, I know it’s God, reaching past the busyness of my daytime mind so I can be sure to hear Him.
When I woke, I wasn’t sure if I’d heard Philippians 4:8 or Philippians 9:4-8. I was pretty sure it was Chapter 4, verse 8, but the other numbers seemed to be tumbling around in my head too, so as soon as I got up, I went looking.
There is no Chapter 9 in Philippians, so I looked up Chapter 4, which happens to be the last chapter in the book. Verse 8 says this in the NIV translation:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
And because the number 9 had come to mind as well, I kept reading:
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
The God of peace will be with me.
Hmm – I certainly needed Him, because I was seething.
In my last blog post, I wrote of the car accident that injured my oldest daughter a little more than two weeks ago. Any loving mother knows how traumatic it is to see your own flesh and blood, hurt and bleeding. I tell you right now, I don’t know how Mary survived what she saw done to Jesus.
You want your child safe, happy, healthy – no matter how old s/he is. When your child is hurt, you want her or him helped – fast. And if you’re like me, heaven help the doctors or nurses that are arrogant, shoddy or heartless in the process.
Which is why I was absolutely furious with the surgeon assigned to repair my daughter’s broken jaw. I met him in pre-op and to say he was cocky is an understatement. When the surgery ended, he neglected to come out and speak to my husband and me. During the post-op office visit, I asked him why he’d ignored something so crucial and he insisted that he had come out and we weren’t there. Since his assistant had to remind him what hospital he'd performed the surgery in, and nothing he said matched the location we had experienced, I suggested he could at least be conciliatory. He refused and challenged me to file a complaint with the hospital.
“Philippians 4:8” is what the Lord spoke to my mind the day I was going to get up and write that letter of complaint.
I detailed everything – every nurse who had been rude and refused to simply do her job to help my daughter, and two of the surgeons who had been boorish and indifferent to me.
It was five pages long.
I hadn’t neglected to point out the doctors and nurses who had been wonderful. I held them up as examples of the healthcare professionals our family needed during such a traumatic time, especially the one I was able to identify because he wore a cross on a gold chain around his neck.
Still, I was definitely lacking peace.
Then Jehovah Shalom – the God of Peace - showed up.
We’d switched to a different surgeon for the remainder of my daughter’s follow-up visits. We saw him today for the first time, and he was as attentive, concerned and personable as the other one was not. He explained everything we needed to know and we left his office feeling very much cared for.
That visit was immediately followed by a trip to the trauma clinic where the clinical director came in and spoke with my daughter at length about her school and career goals (which are similar to the director’s), offering her much needed encouragement at a time when she has felt sad and anxious over being sidelined from work and school.
And then, the most wonderful doctor on the planet came in, giving us tips for healing, encouragement for handling some of the accident’s unexpected effects and stories of her personal post-accident experiences with her own mother that sounded so much like me, my daughter and I were both laughing until the tears came.
…Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
As we left that second doctor visit, my spirit felt so much lighter, I was able to fully think about such things. I knew I could stop feeding my heart, mind and emotions with the negative experiences and return to my computer to reframe my letter. I’ll still let the hospital administrators know about the behavior of the horrid surgeon. But the fire of my fury has definitely cooled in the light of the excellent, praiseworthy work of the doctors we encountered today. I want to emphasize the truth about them even more than I want to complain about the other.
The God of peace had promised to be with me. And today, He was.
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