Most of the people I'm talking to are emergency responders and it doesn't really matter if you happen to be medical, firefighter, police, military or any combination thereof. We're all getting bit by the same dog and the scars are evident no matter what service you perform. You are 9-1-1. You are the answer to the alarm in the middle of the night. You're the one who responds when the radio crackles. You are John Wayne but, in all fairness, you could also be Joan Wayne. You're at the head of a column of cavalry charging to the rescue and there is an audible sigh of relief when you roll on scene.
You could be municipal, industrial or governmental. Full time or volunteer. However, one thing you will be or have been is the last hope some folks are going to have. And, you may as well face it. At some point, you will be the last person some of them see in this life.
It's a tough job but you'll do it. You'll do it because you are the cream of the societal crop. You rise to the top because there's not much you do that could be called selfish. In the final analysis, I doubt there's anything a dying man can do for you. There's no pot of gold in a diseased person's bedroom and helping that person see one more sunrise isn't going to get you on the cover of People Magazine. The locations may change but the plan stays the same. Right now, it's Haiti but it may also be the bar across town. You ease pain and suffering. When others recoil, you touch. When danger threatens, you place yourself in the line of fire.
But, you also suffer. As I was finishing Paramedic school, the instructor informed us that we would be much more susceptible to alcoholism, drug abuse, divorce, etc. than the average person. Just what I wanted to hear on graduation day. But, it's understandable. Every time you see something that humans shouldn't have to lay eyes on, a bow is strung and an arrow comes flying your way. When you do your best and that person dies anyway, you can bet that the horses of depression are galloping. When you try to do it right and get slammed or criticized for your trouble, another dart is hurled in your direction. When you feel underpaid, under-appreciated and undermined, you can almost hear the twang as the arrows let go. You may not be physically messing the floor with your blood but you're wounded and bleeding nonetheless.
Something's wrong. There's trouble in traumaville. You may have psychological support if such programs are offered and you choose to participate but the bleeding doesn't stop. The job is still there. To me, it's kind of like tossing burlap over a skunk. You may have hidden him for a while but the problem is still there. Trauma piles upon trauma as the list of calls begins to look like a long, narrow road through the Ozarks.
So, where is your 9-1-1? Where do the help-givers go when they're the ones looking at the bottom of the well?
Might I suggest Psalms 91:1? He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I know what you're thinking. I thought the same thing myself. What do those old Bible guys know about our modern problems and how could a 2,000-year-old country preacher know what you feel?
Well, I found through personal experience that this Hebrew carpenter is a lot of things. He's Messiah, Savior, King of Kings and on a minor note, a prime example as to where rescuers get their compassion.
Think about it. When everybody else was running from the leper, He walked to him. When others were backing up from the sick like a sand crab on amphetamines, He touched them. When others were busy picking up the stones, He was busy healing. When the stones were about to fly, He stood in the middle. Whether leper, lame or blind, He took the time to touch. You see, Jesus was a toucher. He relieved pain and gave comfort. He liked doing stuff like that.
I know. I was thinking that too. If He's all-powerful, Son of God, Prince of Peace, etc., how can He know how my poor little human self is feeling? After all, you really can't appreciate what the bottom of the well looks like unless you've been there. Right?
Well, I found that there's nothing we feel that He hasn't felt. There's no emotion assaulting us that He hasn't had to deal with. Not as God but, as a man. You see, the Son of the One true God who could streak across the universe in a twinkle, voluntarily incased himself in a tabernacle of clay just like the rest of us. Suddenly, He knew what hunger felt like. He understood what sore joints, aching feet and blisters were. He came to understand danger and the pain it can bring. He knew what a bad day was and before it was over, He'd know first hand about betrayal.
If you think about it, He had to know. If He was to help us, He couldn't do it as God. He had to know life with its pain, temptations and fear just as we know it. When He was in the Garden of Gethsemane crying His eyes out and sweating blood, He knew it. His friends were with Him but they couldn't stay awake so Jesus was alone in that darkest of hours. We should take note here that it wasn't the Son of God who was crying but the all-too-human working man. He said, "The flesh is weak."
When a brother kissed Him on the cheek to identify Him to His enemies, He understood betrayal. Judas could have pointed and said, "There he is" but he didn't. He kissed him. Like a viper slithering to his prey, he slid silently to his side and struck.
Then, His best friends scattered. He found out the hard way just how long "never" is when the chips are down and swords are drawn. Three times Peter was heard to say, "I told you, I don't know the man!" Thomas doubted. They all grieved but I think it was as much for themselves as their mutilated teacher.
Fear ran rampant. The cold chill of impending doom must have enveloped them all. But, at the darkest time in the history of the universe, Jesus did the insane. He performed an act that tends to leave most of us with jaws drooping and brows curled. An act that so goes against human nature that the throng must have been reduced to silence.
He said, "Father, forgive them."
Wait a minute. Forgive them? The friends who left Him? The crowd that screamed for His life? Those who hurled insult after insult and watched as He was beaten to a bloody pulp? The soldiers that were killing Him? Every one and more.
But then, something happened. You may agree or disagree but you can't deny the fact that something happened. The tomb was empty and there were murmurs about a stolen body. There was confusion and frightened banter. Were the Romans coming for them? Would they live to see another sunrise or meet the same fate as their Master? However, the fear they felt was small potatoes compared to the detachment of seasoned warriors guarding the tomb when they suddenly found they couldn't stop a dead Hebrew hick from taking a stroll if He wanted to.
And then things changed. Thomas the doubter went to India where they had to kill him to shut him up and that pretty much sums up the fate for almost all of them. This bunch of scared rabbits suddenly thundered across the world with a message they would die for. But why the cnange? What would make this bunch of cowards believe they could charge the gates of hell with a water pistol and be victorious?
It changed the day they saw the Savior. It changed when they understood that this Messiah was the key to eternity and that the gates of hell held no power. They were unstoppable because you can't stop God. They understood that He defeated death not just for Himself, but for us all. It was true then and it's true now. When He said, "It is finished", He meant it.
Oh, yes. Earlier, I said, "there's nothing a dying man can do for you". Well, there was that One.