Ed and I usually met once a week during my visits to the shelter where he was staying. We had good conversations. Ed would ask for prayer on matters that were concerning him, and then he would complain. He complained about the system, how he was treated, and how he was never going to get out of the shelter and get his own place again. Ed readily accepted the role of victim. Although I empathized with him, I would often attempt to turn the conversation around to what was his part in the situation and what he could do. And we would then pray about the stuff that was out of his control.
Ed got a lead on a place to live that was subsidized, and with his monthly disability check he qualified as a potential resident. He was added to the waiting list. We talked about his status on the waiting list nearly every week. I encouraged Ed to be persistent, positive, and professional when he would stop in and ask the apartment staff where he stood on the list. We would continue to pray for patience and wait. He moved up to number three on the list. Then, things took a turn for what looked to be worse.
Ed had a massive heart attack and nearly died. He was hospitalized for several weeks and then placed in a nursing home to aid his recovery. The whole ordeal took several months. In the meanwhile, I called the apartment complex staff to let them know that Ed was in the hospital after experiencing a heart attack, and that he wouldn’t be checking in as regularly as in the past. Naturally I asked if this had any bearing on his status on the waiting list, but I didn’t receive a concrete reply. I continued to visit Ed while he was in the hospital and the nursing home until he was nearly ready to check out. I was concerned about his health and how he could possibly continue his recovery while living on the street. It was now October, and the weather was beginning to turn toward winter.
While recovering in the nursing home, someone contacted Ed to let him know that he had been moved up the list and that the nursing home would be discharging him directly to his new apartment! He was very excited, and I think relieved (as was I) that he would be able to continue his recuperation in his new place.
I told Ed I was proud of him for responding to my nagging (my term, not his) by doing a good job finding the apartment, completing the application, and remaining in touch with the manager to follow up regularly and confirm his standing. He was very negative going into the process, but by the time Ed received his keys, he was able to see how he did his part and things came together.
What about the role of my phone call to the apartment manager? Or the many prayers we lifted up in the hope of Ed getting an apartment? I can only repeat what the apostle Paul wrote long ago: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, esv). Honestly don’t know if my call had any influence on the timing of Ed getting the apartment, and I surely don’t actually know the impact of our prayers. But it may be that God used, not caused, Ed’s heart attack to aid in moving up on the list. Who knows? You might think I would be the one pointing this possibility out to Ed, however, it was actually Ed who pointed out this possible connection to me.