A Prayer for the Heart (7): Clean Hands

We came home to Södertälje today. It’s a five hour drive from the hospital in Göteborg. It was really good to walk through that front door again. We have been gone for exactly two weeks. Every bone in my body ached for my bed, feeling tired after the drive. I am used to driving for hours on end, but today I was worn out. And I know my wife felt the same. Physically, as well as mentally, it has been a non-stop roller coaster ride. Naturally, Johannes has been the one in the toughest spot, but we’ve been with him all the way, trying to carry his burdens together with him.

Now that we are home again I just wanted to say thank you – a warm thank you – to everyone who has been so supportive in thought, prayer, and action these past weeks. We can’t fully express the gratitude we feel. You’re all angels.

We have been so blessed. The friendliest and most qualified nurses an doctors have taken care of our son, with some of the world’s best surgeons to perform the open-heart surgery. We have had great accommodations at the Ronald McDonald House (unbelievably great). In addition, physical therapists, hospital school teachers, play therapists, etc, have been unbelievably supportive. I wonder how much all this service, including the surgeries, would translate into dollars, if we would have lived in the US? $ 10-20 000? Maybe more? Compare that to our bill: $ 0. It’s at times like this I don’t mind paying such high taxes.

I also want to give a thought about rooms. Just days before we signed in, we got word that the heart ward was jammed with patients, that we even might have to move the surgery to another hospital. Apparently, this had been working situation for some time now, even until the day before we arrived at the hospital. However, on that Monday morning, things were very quiet, with only a few patients in the ward. After Johannes’ surgery, he was placed in the Intensive Care Unit. In the past this had also been overcrowded. Guess how many patients were there with Johannes? None. When he came down to the ward again, he was placed, as is normal procedure, in a room for four. How many were there? Only Johannes. The day before and the day after it was full house. After he had to do his catheterisation, Johannes was taken to the “wake-up” room. The nurse at duty said that just an hour or so earlier they had had chaos with far to many patients. How many were there when Johannes came? You guessed it. Zero. Finally, in most cases, patients in recovery get their own family room. We were blessed to get one, but not every family that came after us were that fortunate.

We had heard from everyone what a “tight” situation we’d be facing. Both of us had some concerns about this, but Angelica, being the mother, was most worried, of course. But still we always ended up alone in each room we came to. We became especially mindful of it when we came to the “wake-up” room (seen below). My wife and I just looked at each other in awe. We realized, with grateful hearts, that wherever Johannes had been taken, the attendees could always give him their full attention. The whole thing felt like a surreal blessing. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. But still… it felt like the whole thing was… planned?


This shows Johannes – alone patient – coming out of his sleep in the “wake-up” room, next to the operating room. As we were sitting there, by the soft light coming down on our son, feeling grateful for the sole attention given to him, I saw a small poster on the wall. I didn’t see all of the text, but I saw the headline. It stated: “With us you’re in clean hands”. Then I saw, behind the text, a set of unfolding hands.

Maybe this business with the rooms was all a coincidence, but still… when I saw those words together with the hands, I couldn’t stop the swelling inside and watering of my eyes. For me it was a connotation suggesting there were more “clean” hands here than those that met the eye. I turned to Angelica, pointed and said, “Do you see that? Look at those words!” She saw that I was touched by it, but broke my focus by saying, “You know… that’s a notice to keep your hands clean with disinfectant.” I looked a little closer. “Oh, yeah… I see it better now.” She continued, “What did you think it was?” I answered, “Well… I just liked the words.” I saw then what she was thinking as she looked at me. (You see, I have this “work injury” of always, in each surrounding, trying to be alert of things that give some higher meaning, so I can more readily pull out examples and applications in my religious education classes.) “Oh, you’re too much!” she said, as we both broke into a laugh. (We were already in good, giggly kind of mood.)”I know, I’m sorry” I said.

But I still like the words, I thought, praying that this father’s hands were “clean” enough.

10 replies »

  1. From

    Abbiraju palem 534266
    Elamanchili Mandal
    W.G.Dist, AP

    Dear beloved brother in Christ

    My heartily greetings of love and peace be to you and
    all the members of your ministry in the splendid name
    of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

    I have great pleasure to introduce myself to you as an
    ardent, faithful and devoted Gospel worker carrying on
    his service since last 5years. I am having 2 congregations at 2 places. Weekly worship, Bible classes for the youth, night prayers meetings are conducted regularly and have been leading many persons to our Lord. I have also been running Sunday school for children teaching those Bible lessons, songs etc.

    I have also been carrying on preaching work accompanied by my co-workers in the surrounding and also distant villages where Jesus is not yet known to
    the public by visiting door to door, meeting each an every person, conveying the messages of our Lord and distributing tracts, booklets etc. and have been
    saving fair number of souls for the glory of our Lord.
    please give reply,

    your in christ

  2. Hello Louis,

    It’s nice to know that you and your family arrived safely back home, after your hospital stay in Gothenburg with Johannes. It’s also fortunate that things at the hospital seemed to quieten down a little just around the time of Johanne’s surgery.

    Immediately prior to her retirement, my mother used to be a “hospital school” teacher, like the ones you briefly mentioned. I think sometimes the child patients got a bit of a shock when she suddenly turned up – after having previously relished the thought that their hospital stay may give them at least a few days off school. I know that thought always appealed to me whenever I was hospitalised as a child! However, whilst in-hospital schooling may not be quite so important for the short-term patients (who can perhaps more easily make up a few days of missed school), it is quite important for the long-term patients, to ensure they don’t fall too far behind in their education.

    Another thing I wanted to comment on was your estimate for the cost of similar treatment in the USA. I think you probably greatly underestimated the cost of such treatment at around US$10,000 – $20,000. I believe it would easily more likely be around US$200,00 – $300,000, and possibly even more. This would make such treatment unaffordable for most people, without having private health insurance. Fortunately, I also live in a country where such medical treatment is provided completely free of charge, as a public patient in a public hospital – and I am very thankful for that.

    I trust that young Johannes will make a full and speedy recovery from his surgery.

    Kind regards and best wishes,

    Jan Burnett-McKeown

  3. I have to agree 100% with you, Louis on this because the Lord knows what we need to become better people.

    I know from personal experiences that He knows how much I can do, stretch and take. AND it is almost always MORE than I thought I could handle.

    My daughter had a lesson in Seminary a few weeks ago about this topic. The lesson was called “The Law of delayed returns”. We need to show our obedience and faith and then the blessings will come. Sometimes they come very fast other times they take their own good time. But the Lord always gives them to us when it is the right time, His time.

    We need to remember that “God does nothing by chance but always by design” Meaning that He knows us and gives us what He knows we need. And what He wants us to have.

    So it was your time for a few blessing. GREAT and AWESOME for you and your family. Let us all celebrate your good fortune and know that you got what our Lord wanted. And like you said you have had hard times before and be assured the trails will come again:-) as I am sure you already know.

    Trails are what makes us grow. Are they fun. NO!! But as I look back over mine and our family’s, I can truly say that I am grateful for the things I have learned from them. The relationship I have got through the atonement and the Savior was worth all our trails and YES I would do it again.

    He-the Savior is worth it all. So I am happy for you and yours and know that you got just what the Lord wanted your family to have like you said in your own post.

    May God bless Johannes and your family as you strive to become more like Him!!


  4. Thanks Anna!

    No, I don’t take it as criticism, cause I have had similar thoughts, almost feeling guilty that Johannes was given such special care. But those thoughts disappeared rather quickly when I realized: God gives every child (person) the experience she needs. Sometimes it’s the silver spoon, yes, but other times it’s digging in the drench, depending on the circumstance and what God sees fit to have us learn. Either way, whatever he does, he does it because he loves us.

    This time Johannes was given what he needed to feel secure (and also his mother, let me add), but another time maybe it’s back to the crowded rooms again – and we’ve been there too, and grown strong from that experience as well.

    Another thing. God didn’t give Johannes better care at the expense of others. There simply was no other at that time that needed the care. That’s how it sometimes is with heart patients. One day, many children may be born with a faulty condition, but other days very few. You just never know.

    But again, the important thing to remember is that God, because of his love for us, is with us every step of our lives. To ask ourselves exactly what He has planned or not, is a question I cannot answer either. I just know that He is there, letting us have the life experiences we need to grow and be happy.

    Best regards,
    Brother Louis

  5. I´ve been thinking a lot about this room-thing since I read about it yesterday. And this is what I think: As a parent it is natural to love your child and want the best for it. It is natural to be worried when it has to go through something tough and it is quit natural to feel grateful and reliefed when all has turned out well. Also for things that makes the journey easier.

    But: to place God in the middle of it – to say that God planned it, means to say that God chose to give to your family what He did not give to others. And why would He do such a thing? Does He love them less – the families that got crowded rooms? Is He not their Heavenly Father as well? Does He care less about them, since they where not fortunate enough to get empty romms and nurses that could give them full attention? Or did perhaps they care less for their children than you care for Johannes. (I would think not.)

    I don´t mean this as huge criticism. Really. Rather as a theological reflection, on a matter I don´t have all the answers to myself. Still – you got more becouse others got less, with or without God´s dealing in the matter.


  6. Welcome home!
    It must really feels like “home” after these weeks.
    I guess that someone has really heard all of your prayers and “accidently” given Johannes the best conditions to get well again.

    The other day I was actually at MacDonalds in Copenhagen with my nice (allthough I practically never goes there). We saw the Ronald MacDonald figure that was there and she thought it was for magic wishes to come thrugh. I explained for her the idea of Ronald MacDonald and we ended up given a 20′ to Ronald. Leaving again, I couldn’t help thinking of the good things Ronald already did for your family. – and now I just read your blog about this.

    I guess MacDonalds is good for something 😉

    Best wishes from Helle.

  7. Yay for returning home! I am so happy that all went well. I loved your story of the rooms – that is so wonderful, and definitely planned. With our journey with Jacob there were so many things that were just right that I couldn’t help but think that they were all planned as well. Planned by our loving Father so that we all got what we needed. I love the meaning you took from the “clean” hands sign. It is truly wonderful.

    Our experience taught me that there really are no coinicidences, just Heavenly Father’s plan in motion.

    Give Johannes a big hug from my family, we are so happy he is well. It is funny that though we may never meet, my heart feels a connection to your beautiful family and I pray that all continues to go well with all of you.

  8. I’m so happy for you guys! Fantastic how well everything went. And all those coincidences do make you wonder sometimes eh =).

    All the best and big hug,


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