Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Book Review: Lessons from A Hospital Bed

Lessons from a Hospital Bed. John Piper. 2016. Crossway. 80 pages. [Source: Free from Desiring God Ministries.]

Lessons From A Hospital Bed by John Piper is a fantastic short book. How short is short? Just 80 pages. Yet for being so very little, it magnifies a BIG GOD and declares some mighty truths.

The book is divided into two sections. The first part is "Ten Beliefs I Brought to the Hospital." Essentially these are ten oh-so-basic gospel truths that form the foundation of (Christian) living--in or out of a hospital. The first is "The Bible is the Word of God and should be trusted." The tenth is "Your life and your illness are not meaningless." The other eight are just as good, I promise.

The second part of the book is "Ten Lessons From My Hospital Bed." I know a little something about learning lessons from a hospital bed myself. I spent 12 days in the hospital in December 2015, 9 of those days in a cancer ward. (My tumor turned out not to be cancer like they first thought.) I learned a LOT, believe me. So I was curious what Piper learned and if we'd share any lessons in common. We did a few. His first lesson was "Don't murmor about delays and inefficiencies in the hospital when you are getting medical care that surpasses by a hundredfold what is available in 90 percent of the world."

I want to quote from this first chapter:
Instead of focusing on the fact that your nurse isn't responding or the man in the next bed is snoring or the intravenous device is beeping or the ice chips have run out, think about the fact that 150 years ago you would probably be dead by this point. And if not, you might be groaning in unrelieved pain with no morphine to help. And you may have no clue what's wrong with you or whether or not you are dying.
This thought occurred to me over and over again. How fortunate I am to be alive today; to be living at this time and to have faced this crisis in 2015 instead of 1915! I don't doubt that I probably would have died if I'd been living a hundred years ago or 150 years ago as Piper mentions.

He also mentions the importance of not grumbling or complaining.
Do you want to 'shine as a light' in the medical world? The Bible says, the bright of your shining is the absence of your grumbling. Amazing! Why is freedom from grumbling so bright and amazing? Because grumbling is the most natural thing in the world. When we grumble, we act like everybody else. You don't need the Holy Spirit to grumble. You don't need Christ to grumble. You don't need love to grumble. You don't need faith to grumble. All you need is your own entitled self.
I knew one thing that was very important to me personally. To NOT act like my grandmother did in the hospital. The first thing she did was make ENEMIES of all the nurses within minutes. It didn't matter how long or how short her stay. Nurses are your advocates, your helpers, you want them on YOUR side. Plus, I agree that you don't meet people accidentally.

He mentions in several chapters about how difficult and challenging it can be to focus when you're in the hospital. Both because you are in a lot of pain and you are surrounded by a lot of noise. The fifth lesson is "Realize that physical pain makes focusing on God's promises more difficult and demands greater concentrating effort."
He writes,
It's not just the barrage of sounds that disorient our souls; it's the pain. I don't want this to blindside you. The very thing we need God for can blur our vision of God. At this point, it is so very important that you have in your heart some very simple, short biblical truths about God that you can declare to yourself. Long complex reasoning about God's sovereignty and goodness won't work in this situation, because the pain is too disorienting. It doesn't allow the mind to work at full capacity. What you need is this: "The Lord is my Shepherd." Period. "Christ gave himself for me." Period. "I will never leave you." Period. "Nothing is too hard for the Lord." Period. "Everything works for good." Period. These are like white stones with your name on them. And you hold them in your hand as you groan and wait.
This is one reason why Bible reading is so important. You need to have these truths stored away in your heart for you never know WHEN you're going to need them.

I especially loved the tenth lesson: "Pray that none of these hospital hours, none of this pain, none of these fears, none of these relationships, none of this life-altering season will be wasted." 

We may or may not have a choice on if we suffer, if we are in pain, if we face a long--or even a short--illness. But we can choose to glorify God through it all, no matter what. We can choose to rejoice, to praise God, to hold onto the hope that we have in Him, we can cling all the more to a Savior who KNOWS exactly what we need at any moment.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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