Mercy came to room 449 in Garland’s Baylor Medical Center in the great State of Texas. Mercy is a nurse there and is among many nurses whom I had the pleasure of getting to know as a good friend of mine, named Grant, stayed there in room 449. Grant laid there n his hospital bed, day after day, weak from an unknown blood disease which had unexpectedly brought his life to a halt just like you’d pause a movie yet while everything else in life goes on. Mercy and the other nurses and support staff were sources of comfort and joy for Grant.
The doctors were baffled and confused and so like doctors do, they gave him vague information and left with him more confused than when they came in. Later an unannounced specialist of some particular sort would come in and check him over and repeat the process. Soon the number of doctors seeing him numbered to seven each one beginning to contradict the other. But what was hardest for Grant besides not knowing what was wrong with him and why he hurt and felt so weak was that each day one doctor would indicate he was going home.
So he’d pack up his things a little bit at a time because he didn’t have much energy and I’d head over to pick him up. We’d visit while we waited – I’d be there regardless of whether he was getting out or not. Eventually, the sun moved from one side of the sky to the other and since it was winter, it began to darken. The next time a nurse would come in to check his blood pressure or something like that, he’d ask and she’d end up breaking the news that no, he’d not be going home today. His blood levels were too low and he’d need another transfusion.
Once again Grant knew he’d won another night’s stay in the most expensive hotel in the City - Hotel Hospital, compliments of low platelets and brought to you by low red blood cells (donated anonymously). All rooms come complete with backless clothing, full room service ordered to specifications (although not your own), monitored bodily functions including outputs (sorry – had to be gross), maid service and constant care even while you’re trying to sleep. In fact, the hotel staff is right outside the door which must be why there’s no need for locks on the doors.
The hotel also comes with a gift shop (although registered guests aren’t allowed to leave their floors especially in their backless clothes), a dinning room (ok – it’s just a cafeteria), guest services (entitled admitting) and is the largest building in the City, a major attraction I’m sure. For convenience, the hotel accepts all major insurance cards, but doesn’t refuse service to anyone. But, I pity anyone who opens the bill once they receive it as I’ve been in a hotel similar to this one myself. Lastly, there are some rules for guests and those visiting guests. Children should not be allowed to play with containers labeled “biohazard” or allowed to play in areas where the international radiation sign is displayed even though I’m sure that’s just the staff’s lounge area.
In many ways, his girlfriend Carlotta got him through the day. She’d walk one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met, both on the inside and out. She’s obviously the most beautiful person to Grant because it was like the night had become day when she walked in the room because the once toothless looking man now visibly had teeth because he was grinning ear to ear, his eyes lit up and he became energetic as if he’d just got a shot of epinephrine. To make things even better, she’d open the blinds and let sun in. Her smile would catch Grant’s attention and I think I became wallpaper for a few minutes, which I was happy to do. It thrilled me to see him happy. She’d always bring him something neat like balloons too.
But eventually as the “tomorrow you should go home” turned into something that was said a week ago, the hotel seemed like something entirely different to Grant. The news came and every day it came tougher to hear. The air in the room once light and easy became heavier. I fought back tears and depression when the sentence was once again pronounced and I knew that Grant’s hopes must have once again been shattered just like when I dropped my mom’s treasured crystal vase years ago and no one was able to reach out and catch it.
I can’t know what was going through Grant’s mind. From his words, but more vividly and descriptively his face spoke that he was discouraged. Yet, these times lasted only a short time. His illness had robbed him of his strength, his energy, his abilities, and his time with his daughter, his time with Carlotta, unable to spend much time at the hospital and of his time at church. He’d still be there or six feet under though or at the very least had quit answering the phone and taking visitors. But he never gave up. He held on.
That’s because another Mercy was in room 449 the whole time. His Name is God. It’s God’s mercy that gave Grant the grace to persevere. It never ceases to amaze me the endurance God can grant through His mercy, grace and His power to others in times like these. Grant even joked at times about his hotel room being cell block 449. He specifically mentioned to some of the staff that he appreciated their work, particularly the nurse named Mercy. Unfortunately, she wasn’t on duty the night Grant was discharged. That would have been too cool.
Grant is still sick as I write this today. The doctors still don’t know what’s wrong with him. He still is weak and unable to do what he could easily do three weeks ago. Sure there are times when he questions why and struggles. If he didn’t, I’d wonder about his honesty with me and himself. But, he’s not in despair. I’ve wondered how could I go on like that and then it hits me that I have had similar issues too. It’s God’s mercy. He will never turn our back on us.
When we are sick or have difficulty, we sometimes wonder if we’ve done something wrong. It’s a valid question, but one to ponder with the Lord for just a short while and then move on because God’s mercy forgives. We live in a fallen world and sickness and difficulty will befall us like rain from the sky – there’s no escaping it. No umbrella or roof will protect you from these things. Face it. It will happen. But when it does, know this - it produces character, character produces hope and, well, you know the rest (Rom 5:4).
At the beginning I wrote that Mercy came to room 449 and you probably thought at first that I meant the nurse. If so you were right because that’s how I started. But I realized that Mercy came with Grant to room 449 because Mercy resides and abides within him.
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