When we are in deep despair, we feel totally insignificant and might even question the existence of God. In the situation with John, I fervently prayed after our first meeting and asked God how I could help him discover a meaningful purpose for his life. As I prayed, I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me about asking John to be my “teacher” in helping me better understand his experiences in Iraq and what it is like to live with an unexplainable seizure disorder caused by a TBI. The Holy Spirit seemed to say to me, “Due to your crippling condition and surgeries in your childhood and adolescence, you were denied medical waivers several times when wanting to serve in our armed forces. You are not a Veteran, you’ve not been to Iraq, you do not have a TBI causing an unexplainable seizure disorder, but John does. He can help you better understand.”

I realized what the Holy Spirit wanted me to understand was that instead of trying to come as the chaplain who could minister out of my strength to John, God wanted me to humble myself and raise John to a position where he could be the one with the voice of authority. He could be the one to help me and other team members better understand his condition and experiences. From my own despairing moments, when I was powerless and had no voice over my care … I knew that what John needed was a voice and a purpose. I asked John to be my teacher and encouraged other staff to ask him to teach them as well. Saying to John, “We want to learn from you, help us understand…” gave him a purpose, and gave his life meaning. Empowering John to believe that he had a meaningful purpose in helping all of us (doctors, nurses, social workers, and chaplains) better understand and learn from him … brought hope to his life.

As I patiently sat and genuinely learned from John, he came to realize that God is not an aloof entity. He realized that God is deeply concerned about him and values his life as significant. God does care for each of us personally, and the Bible affirms that God calls us beloved children.

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