Why Me, Lord?

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Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood Sr. news photo during his election to the Detroit City Council in 1965

 

About 5PM yesterday, minding my own business in the lobby of the hospital where my dad is, talking on the phone to my brother, Steve, Tonita Cheatem, who is a church member and pretty high level administrative staff person at the hospital, came over to me and asked me if I was there to see my dad.  I replied,” yes” She asked me if I had informed Dr. Pat Wilkerson Uddyback of my dad’s condition.  Pat is a church member who is the vice-president of the hospital.  I told her, no, and that I did not want to bother her because Dr. Eric Ayers, my dad’s physician, seemed to be on top of things.  Dr. Cheryl Moore, family friend and church member was also consulting with Dr. Ayers.  Tonita all but grabbed me by the arm and said, “Let’s go see Pat.”

Pat was glad to see Tonita and me.  While we talked about my dad’s experience at the hospital, Eric called her and filled her in.  I was impressed that he was calling her on his own without me butting in.  After a while, the three of us went down to see my dad.  He seemed pleased to see us.  Pat held his hand and listened as he thanked her profusely for the care he was receiving.  Holding his hand, Pat said, “Rev. Hood, I should be thanking you for all you have done fighting for civil rights so that people like me could work her at this hospital.”  Jokester that I am, I smiled and said, “You are right.  If it were not for the civil rights movement, you would probably be working at the “Edith K.”  She asked me, “What is that?”  I told her that the Edith K Thomas Hospital was a small black owned hospital that was one door from the former location of our church on Garfield Street on the East Side of Detroit.  The Edith K Thomas Hospital was owned by the parents of Sam, Ed and Alf Thomas who were also church members.  One of the legacies of the Civil Rights Movement was that prior to the Civil Rights Legislation of 1964, African American doctors were refused from seeing patients in the major white hospitals in Detroit.  Once the legislation was passed, black doctors were granted privileges in the big white owned hospitals and the black hospitals in Detroit went out of business.

My dad was part of the Civil Rights Movement.  Many firefighter and police officers in Detroit have told me that they count my dad as one of the reasons the City of Detroit began to hire blacks into those departments when he was on the City Council as the only African American in 1965.  What they may not know is long before his work on the Detroit City Council, my dad was an activist for change in New Orleans.  He fought to pave the streets around his church, worked for voter rights and access to public accommodations.  As a young pastor in New Orleans, he was the secretary of the New Orleans Improvement Association.  When Martin Luther King Jr. held the organizing meeting for the SCLC in New Orleans, my father was one of the original signers for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  He has all kinds of stories about the Movement.  Walt Young, the younger brother of Andrew Young, called yesterday to see how my dad was doing.  When Walt, who is now a dentist, was in high school, my father drove him and several other young people from New Orleans to a small college in Alabama to meet and interact with white students.  The president of the college was a classmate of my father’s at Yale Divinity School and they thought they could change the world one person at a time by letting the young people interact with each other across racial lines.  An hour after they arrived on campus, a group of white men dressed in khaki pants arrived with long guns and shouted, “If you “N…” don’t leave in an hour we will burn the place down.”  My dad and his youth group left the campus so fast that some of them left their bags.  As they left the campus, they stopped to get gas.  Without cell phones or the Internet, the operator of the gas station told my dad, “You won’t have any problem here.”  They made their way back to New Orleans without further incident.  I share this little story with you as a reminder of how real the danger was during the Movement.  My father was part of that movement.  When we moved to Detroit in 1958, our church became one of the northern sites for fundraising for the SCLC.

At one point my dad raised the question, “Why me?”  I told him that we had been informed that his health was improving and in a day or so might be moved to a regular room.  Holding his hands, Pat and I prayed for him.  I did what I often do when I pray for older sick people.  At the end of the prayer I went into the Lord’s prayer and opened my eyes and ears to see if he was able to pray the prayer of Jesus with us, which is what he did.  Right on cue, after the prayer, Dr. Ayers walked in.

I have been thinking about his question, “Why me?”  Why me?  Am I sick because I did something wrong and am being punished?  Why me?  Am I suffering for the sins of my parents?  Why me?  Am I sick because the God we serve is capricious and randomly messes with people, regardless of their faith and behavior?  Or, am I sick because I am 92 and my body is ready to go the way of the world?

I think not.  I believe that sometimes our illnesses are inherited.  Sometimes it is the sheer luck of the draw.  Sometimes it is because of life style.  In my father’s case, I do not have a clue.  He is 92 and lived his life without a lot of distractions and debilitating behavior.  But, even he has been touched with a health challenge.  To me, the important question is not so much, “Why me?”, but help me, Lord!  I want to thank each of you for adding my father to your personal prayer list.  I believe that prayer changes things and that prayer is making a difference to improve the health of my dad.  At 92, I do not expect him to live forever, but I just did not ever contemplate that he would die this week.  Yesterday, I wrote about the prayer of Hezekiah which extended his life by several years.  Ultimately, Hezekiah did die, but he was granted a reprieve of sorts.  I thank those of you who are praying for my dad.  I realize that to some my disclosure might seem a little much, but I have learned that there is something healing and cathartic when I write about my experience and what I am feeling.  I also believe in the power of prayer and the tremendous changes it can bring.

 

Job 2: 23       Why is light given to one who cannot see the way,

whom God has fenced in?

24  For my sighing comes like my bread,

and my groanings are poured out like water.

25  Truly the thing that I fear comes upon me,

and what I dread befalls me.

26  I am not at ease, nor am I quiet;

I have no rest; but trouble comes.” [1]

 

 

Prayer:

Lord, I do not always have an answer for why things are the way that they are.  I have tried to live a life of faith and service to you, but sometimes I have no explanation for things that happen.  In blind faith I follow you.  There are days when vision is cloudy and faith is challenged, but through it all, I put my hand in your hand.  I trust your light.  I count on your guidance.  I believe in your promise that the righteous will never be forsaken.  Bless me now to see your salvation in my lifetime and I will tell the world of your goodness, grace and mercy.  Through Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior I pray.  Amen.

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers, Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com

http://www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org

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“Vote for My Daddy!”  Nicholas Hood Sr. with his youngest son, Steve during the 1965 campaign for the Detroit City Council

 

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Job 3:23–26). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.