“The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields.” Mtt. 9:37
I don’t know, maybe I am the only one, but I have always heard this verse in the context of evangelism and missions: Pray for more pastors and missionaries!!
Not any more!
Before being readmitted to the clinic in Munich four weeks ago, we needed to get a referral from a doctor. It being Sunday, the only way to get this was to go to the emergency room of a nearby hospital. Great! Emergency room on a Sunday! I mean, I loved watching ER, but I had absolutely no patience for this. After about two hours of waiting, I started acting very childishly. I was glad no one I knew was there but Jan, who already knows how immature I am. Later, when I regained some measure of my adulthood, I made this realization:
There were a lot of people there!
There were a lot of hurting people there!
We asked the doctor (once we finally got to see him), if it was like this every weekend. “Saturdays are even worse.” When I go to our family doctor here on a Monday, there are already people lined up outside the door waiting for them to open at 7:30 in the morning! Surprise, surprise, it wasn’t any different at the private clinic in Munich. At least this time I was in a two bed room instead of the 4 bed room just after the OP. Imagine, that whole big hospital filled with hurting people... and now I was one of them!
In the midst of all this, I “happened” to be reading in Matthew chapter 9. Low and behold vs. 35-38: “Jesus traveled through all the cities and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the kingdom. AND Wherever he went he HEALED people of every sort of DISEASE and ILLNESS. HE FELT great PITY for the CROWDS that came, because their PROBLEMS were so great and they didn’t know where to go for HELP. They were like sheep without a shepherd. (SO) He said to his disciples, “the harvest is so great, so pray to the Lord....(see above).”
As I was lying in my bed day after day after day in the most excruciating pain I have ever known, I was so thankful for every single person who came into our room. My competent doctor, who spent lengthy visits (sometimes up to half an hour..just shooting the breeze and soothing my fears) and a lot of time in consultation, tests and diagnosis; the nurses (male and female) who were there around the clock literally at the press of a button bringing me food, changing my bed, giving me medication, helping me to put my socks on, and who rescued me in the middle of the night from the bathroom from where I had to crawl back to my bed again after crumbling to the floor in pain. Many of them knew exactly what I was going through, because they had had the same or similar back trouble, and one in particular helped to coach me through my panic attacks and muscle spasms. I was so thankful to not be just an anonymous number, but to be treated as a person, who was more than just the sum of her momentary ills. I was thankful for the guy who came every day and disinfected our room, picked up the stuff I had dropped, threw away my snotty tissues. I was thankful for every phone call and visit, many from our friends who are themselves doctors or nurses. They, especially, showed an overwhelming concern and interest in every detail of my diagnosis and treatment, and wouldn’t be satisfied I was in good care until after lengthy “interrogations” (once even of my doctor! :-). Add to this list the many helping hands from our church who have cooked meals for us, done our laundry, driven our kids to their afternoon activities, called, and even given us money for a cleaning lady!
I am so overwhelmed.
How grateful I am for all of these workers. All of these people, who in one way or another, regardless of their religious orientation, have heard the call of “the Lord of the harvest,” and have responded in kind with Jesus: having pity, doing all in their power to help, heal and comfort someone like me, when I was ill and in great need.
Now, I in no way want to get down on anyone, but none of those people were either pastors or missionaries, and most of them weren't even professing "Christians". Maybe Jesus is talking about something much more basic. Something really quite simple. Maybe Jesus is just longing for more normal people to open their eyes to the hurt and pain and sorrows around them, because it really is everywhere. Maybe he is crying out to his Father for more people to be moved to an active compassion for one another. Any people. Any where.
Me, for example.