It was April 1993. Thirty days earlier my daughter, Jana, had been critically injured in a car crash on the Pacific Coast Highway outside of Malibu and was hospitalized at the UCLA Medical Center. My wife and I had returned to the United States from Africa where we had been serving as missionaries in Jos Nigeria. Because our home was in the Sacramento area we had to rely on people to provide us with housing during Jana’s month long stay in the hospital. Although still comatose, her condition had improved to the point where she could be transferred to an acute care facility. We were asking God to provide us with a facility close to our home in Grass Valley California so that we could have the love and support of our family and friends during the months and months of care that Jana was facing.
Kelly, the hospital case worker that was assigned to us, made many attempts to find a bed for Jana at a skilled nursing facility in Sacramento. Beds were limited due to the type of injury that Jana had sustained, her condition and the long term prognosis. We prayed, begging God for a bed for Jana but each day we received the report that there weren’t any beds available in Sacramento and that Jana was being moved to a facility in Los Angeles. We were very disappointed and overwhelmed by the prospect of having to find a place to live in Los Angeles while managing the long term care of our daughter.
As we sat in the waiting room discussing our next steps, I remembered a story Luke tells us about ten leprous men who, seeing Jesus, cried out to Him for mercy. Jesus sees them and tells them to go and show themselves to the priests. While going they are all cleansed. Luke reports, “Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan.” (Luke 17:15-16) I was impressed with the one man who returned to thank Jesus for what He had done. I thought that, although we had not been provided with the bed in Sacramento, I should call the case worker at the Sacramento facility and thank him for trying to make room for Jana. I went across the hall from the waiting room to use the pay phone. The case worker in Sacramento answered the phone and the conversation went something like this:
“Hi Jeff, this is Bill Jackson calling. I want to thank you for all of the work that you did to try to make room for Jana at your facility.”
“Hi Bill. I am sorry that it didn’t work out. I have been trying to connect with Kelly to tell her that we have a bed for Jana but we keep missing each other.”
“You have a bed for Jana?”
“Yes. But Kelly and I have not been able to put the transfer together. I am so sorry.”
Because I was standing in the hallway I could see Kelly at the nurses station. “Jeff, Kelly is down the hall, I will get her and put her on the phone.” Kelly and Jeff worked out the details and Jana was transported to Sacramento. All because one leper went back to say “thanks”.
God says “in everything give thanks” (1 Thess. 5:18). This should be every Christian’s response to the Good Shepherd as He cares for His sheep, His way.