Psalm 68:6 – God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. (NIV)
I can remember visiting a geriatric ward, many years ago, which was full of patients who had suffered severe strokes. Most of them were in wheelchairs, and some of them had no idea where they were. I was just a young, tenderfoot pastor with limited life experience. Seeing patients in those conditions just about broke my heart.
I had come to preach the gospel. I had come to inspire hope amongst people who were powerless and completely dependent upon the care, nursing, and skills of professional health workers. My message was meant to soften the suffering, diminish the indignity, and heal the hurts these patients bore. I had come to the hospital bursting with evangelical zeal, but when I saw these precious people, God slew my spirit with a reality check.
So, instead of preaching, I picked up my guitar and started singing old hymns and folk songs. And then something miraculous took place. As I was singing the old love song, "Sweet Sixteen," one of the nurses gasped aloud, "Look at Tom!" Everyone turned to look at an old man who had been quietly sitting in a wheelchair. He was singing the words and smiling. Tom hadn't spoken a word in over two years, since his speech was curtailed by a severe stroke. Tom had been a prisoner inside of himself. God led him forth with singing.
We have a wonderful God who heals and liberates people from their individual prisons each and every day. He can do the same for us in the midst of our troubles, for He yearns to set us free.
Prayer: Lord God, You give us songs to sing and music to minister to our spirits. You touch us in mysterious ways, which one day may release us from pain and suffering, powerlessness and sickness, grief and loss. Be with us today and set our spirits free. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.