Today’s reflection is based upon an assignment that I was given thirty years ago by my clinical pastoral education supervisor. When I entered this training I had served as a music minister and I did not have any experience being in a place of authority. I had plenty of experience being in a subordinate role. As a result my clinical supervisor asked me why I wanted to enter into this type of training. I recall that I did not really know why. I will never forget his reply to my lack of not knowing, “…well you better find out why.” So he directed me to the scriptures and assigned me to search them until I found out why I was taking clinical pastoral education.
As I searched the scriptures, I came across a passage located in II Corinthians chapter seven. I was reading the Amplified Bible at the time. This passage recounts the apostle Paul’s experiences after leaving his own Jewish religion to begin ministering to Gentiles. Paul experienced a dream whereby a man from Macedonia called out to him to come over to his gentile land and help them. Not all experiences are of the positive variety. The apostle Paul, once entered into Macedonia to preach the good news of Christ Jesus came against all kinds of opposition. He was stoned and left for dead, nearly beaten to death with rods, escaped from those who were out to kill him by being let down from an elevated window in a basket, not to mention being ship wreaked.
All of these hair raising events that Paul experienced, more than likely, caused him much emotional as well as physical pain. Often, based upon the sermons we have heard concerning the apostle Paul, makes him out to be an invincible character. What I discovered in the II Corinthians seven passage spoke volumes to me about Paul’s humanity and it also revealed why I was involved in clinical pastoral education. The passage says the following:
“For even when we arrived in Macedonia, our bodies had no ease or rest, but we were oppressed in every way and afflicted at every turn — fightings and contentions without, dread and fears within [us].
But God, Who comforts and encourages and refreshes and cheers the depressed and the sinking, comforted and encouraged and refreshed and cheered us by the arrival of Titus.”
And all of a sudden, there it was, my reason for doing clinical pastoral training. Titus simply showed up. He perhaps did not know how his arrival would affect Paul. As I continued my training, the visits I made to hospital patients and their families was simply to just show up. I became Titus to those suffering that which I did not know but in showing up hopefully I was able to bring them a sense of peace and comfort.
So the next time you think your presence doesn't count, remember Titus and how his showing up became a God send. You are a God send and because you are, you matter!