The One Who Gives Us Room
“You gave me room when I was in distress.” – Psalm 4
“When my mother was diagnosed with cancer,” a friend shared recently, “one of the greatest gifts was the nurse in the oncologist’s office.”
“She had a great sense of humor, and she could make a cold, sterile examining room a place of warmth and even laughter,” my friend said. But even more than that, he continued, “she knew how to hold my mother’s anxiety.”
As the cancer progressed, he explained, “My mother got more and more scared—understandably. She kept asking the same questions over and over again. I knew it was the fear talking, but I was worn out. I’d reached the end of my own rope. I loved my mother deeply, but I couldn’t deal with one more question.”
But that nurse, he continued, “could listen to my mother ask the same thing a million times.” It was like she had a big bowl, he said as he stretched out his arms to demonstrate, “in which she could hold my mother’s fear—and my impatience.”
If I experienced God in that hard time, my friend concluded, “it was that nurse’s deep well of patience and grace. I thanked God every day for her. I still do.”
“You gave me room when I was in distress,” the ancient Psalmist writes. “You have put gladness in my heart . . . . I will lie down and sleep in peace.”
Maybe the Psalmist knew someone like that oncology nurse. Perhaps we do, too.
God of infinite patience and bottomless love, thank you for the people who have made room for us in our distress. They have put your gladness in our hearts, even in hard times. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Worship for Vital Congregations, published by The Pilgrim Press.