Pastoring the deeply wounded is actually a gift. It exposes my impatience.
For the third time in a week, Ed Hastings burst into my office with a health crisis—only this time, it was really serious. He threw his arms around me and began to weep. "Pastor Matt," he choked, "you better start planning my funeral. I think I have AIDS."
As it turned out, Ed had never engaged in high-risk behavior nor had he been tested for AIDS. It was simply Ed's way to up the ante on his personal problems.
So as he clung to me sobbing and shaking, I began to mentally list his other ailments. Over the past seven years, Ed had called the Mercy Ambulance crew for half a dozen alleged heart attacks (one during a worship service), two cases of dehydration (he forgot to drink), an ulcer, and a possible hernia (it was just a pulled groin muscle). I also recalled my tri-weekly sessions to deal with Ed's depression, addictions (including pot, sex, alcohol, prescription drugs—to date), suicidal thoughts, ...1