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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Encouragement (among believers) (11/08/07)

TITLE: The Same Kind of Suffering
By Leigh MacKelvey


Pajama-clad men and women shuffle to the Nurses’ Station, hands cupped, ready to receive an assortment of red, pink and white pills dispensed through the open window. Ellie watches them gulp the medicine and mechanically drop the tiny fluted cups into the trash as the window slides shut with finality until midnight meds. Hospital-issued blue paper shoes slide across the wooden floor back to chairs arranged in front of the Three Stooges Marathon on the small screen. Some take up the never-ending chess game. Most sit dejectedly with vacant stares at the sanitized white of the walls around them. An older woman holds the hand of another who is lost deep within herself and no longer communicates with beings from this world. Whimpers come from a man who holds a stuffed lamb as he rocks in perpetual motion, one arm waving to clear the pristine air above him.

Soon the ward will bed down for the night and Ellie will be left with the sounds of the midnight-to-five shift. She will remain in the lounge to read her Bible. Her prayer is that soon she will be able to sleep through the night like the other patients on her floor, whose muffled snores and raspy coughs she will hear through closed doors. She will listen to the whispers of the on-call interns who discuss their patients and their odd symptoms, the soft crunch of nurses’ rubber soles as they make their bed checks, and the clicking on and off of flashlights whose orange glow spreads though each room. Ellie closes her eyes and opens her heart to the Lord.

Why Lord? I’m your child. I love You. There’s nothing more I want to do than serve You. How can I be like this? You said that nothing I suffer hasn’t been suffered by other believers, but I’ve not met another Christian who has been admitted to a psychiatric clinic. Where are others with the overwhelming depression I have? No one at my church suffers this. They don’t understand and say I need more faith. Am I crazy, Lord? I’m just a mother and wife who can see nothing good in this. How can good come from leaving my children at home for my dear husband to care for? You promised a purpose for everything you allow in my life. What purpose is there in spilling my guts to a group of unbelievers and getting counsel from doctors who don’t know You ...

Ellie’s cries stop short as she suddenly knows with a certainty never before experienced, that tonight, midst the groans of her angst and hospital sounds, God will quiet her heart. With quickening anticipation, Ellie returns to the scriptures. Her eyes search the precious words until a firm hand presses her shoulder.

“Hi, you’re Ellie, right? I’m Teresa. You’re in my nine o’clock art therapy group. My room is on the floor above you, but someone told me you’re up all night reading your Bible. Can’t sleep either, huh? I’d like to you to meet someone. Would you mind walking over to the Nurses’ Station with me?”

Ellie sees two nurses conferring quietly. The head nurse on her floor nods and then the other nurse looks at Ellie and smiles.

“I’m Nurse Samuels, Head Nurse on the second floor. One of the interns on your floor who attends my church told me about you.” Nurse Samuels winks conspiratorially and then continues. “We’re not supposed to do this, but the Lord says ‘Be Bold”, so several of us meet during the late shift with other patients like you and Teresa for prayer and a Bible study.I’ve gotten permission for you to join us in Teresa’s room if you’d like. But first, let me read you something the Lord showed me when he led me to start our group. Listen to this from I Peter 5: 9,10 ... “

Resist him, standing firm in the faith because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering. And the God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Ellie’s heart calms, the shame of her illness begins to dissipate. She is not crazy. God understands. She is not alone.


Author’s Note: Many Christians suffer from debilitating illnesses affecting the mind in the same manner cancer or diabetes affects the body. At Castle Clinic, this small group of brothers and sisters in Christ reached overflowing numbers, including first time believers who heard the gospel from Ellie, Terasa and the others. They not only encouraged one another, but were encouraged to share their faith in the God of grace.

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This article has been read 1026 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Chrissi Dunn11/16/07
This story captured my interest from the beginning. It's encouraging to see God work in such a situation.
Joanne Sher 11/17/07
Your descriptions are amazingly vivid and wonderful - I felt like I was right there. This is absolutely excellent.
Sheri Gordon11/17/07
This was very interesting to read. You tell a story very well. Nice job with the topic.
Seema Bagai 11/19/07
Powerful emotions and vivid descriptions in this piece.
Beth LaBuff 11/19/07
Wow! Poignant and wonderfully written! It's so good to be able to read what the Lord is doing in ministries like this. Your character development of Ellie was very good.
Deborah Engle 11/19/07
This kind of encouragement is inspiring in many ways. Well written.
Patty Wysong11/19/07
Great job with not only the descriptions but also with capturing her feelings! Hugs!! :-)
Dee Yoder 11/20/07
You've touched my heart with this entry. I love the voice you gave your MC, and her cries to God about her condition and the whys-so realistic and true to life. Isn't it amazing how God can bring encouragement to us, even in the most unlikely places, if we are obedient to answer His call to encourage each other? Good story.
william price11/21/07
A classic. Great job in keeping me reading and wanting more. Very moving. Ministered well. God bless.
Sara Harricharan 11/21/07
I think you nailed the topic hear, I could feel her pain and felt as if I were a shadow watching all that happened, the descriptions, everything, excellent!
Loren T. Lowery11/21/07
This was truly an inspiring and inspired piece of writing. You took the reader all the way from despair to hope and showed how faith can bring believers together for strength. Great job.
Karen Wilber11/21/07
I didn't know if I'd make it past the first paragraph. I've had family in the type of ward that you describe. But I'm glad I kept reading for your message of encouragement. What a wonderful ministry to believers in desperate need of good news.
LaNaye Perkins11/21/07
Your entry blessed my heart. I'm so glad you wrote on this topic. This message is too important to be kept silent. Well Done!
william price11/22/07
Congrats leigh, great job. I'm so proud of you. God bless.
Sharlyn Guthrie11/22/07
Congratulations on your placements this week! They are well-deserved.
Catrina Bradley 11/28/07
GIRL!!! Way to go, my good friend. God bless you. Cat