Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. (Romans 8:26 NRSV)
Pastor Jim Moore recalls when he took a course in pastoral care as a part of his seminary training. One day he was asked to visit a woman in the hospital who had lost her will to live: she had no cards or flowers, and she sat all day in a darkened room. But Jim was terrified. He felt that he was too inexperienced, and that he wouldn't know what to do. And his nervousness affected his visit.

First he pushed the door open too hard and it slammed against the wall. Next he walked over and accidentally kicked the bed. He stammered, stuttered and said all the wrong things in between long periods of embarrassed silence. Finally he tried to say a prayer, but even that didn't come out right. He left the room that day with tears in his eyes, ready to quit the ministry. He felt ashamed that this patient had needed him, and he had failed her.

But a few days later Jim went courageously back. Imagine his surprise when he found the woman sitting up in bed writing letters. Flowers and cards were everywhere. She recognized him at once, and began thanking him over and over for the visit he had paid her.

Jim was confused, because he knew he had botched the visit. He had done everything painfully wrong, and he confessed as much to her.

"But that's just it," she replied. "I felt so sorry for you! It was the first time I had felt anything but self-pity for months. And that little spark of compassion for you gave me the will to live!" (4) Our weaknesses can be blessings in disguise.

Dear God, may my weakness be used to bless others with your hope and love. In Jesus name, Amen.

Ron Newhouse

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