Hospital Humility

  • July 28, 2016
  • #8934

Hospitals are places of humiliation – but in God’s economy, that’s not a bad thing, for humiliation often sets the stage for humility.  

Hospital Humility

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and welcome to Joni and Friends.

And welcome to a great week where I’ve been sharing insights from Dr. John Piper’s new little booklet called “10 Lessons from a Hospital Bed.” And as I’ve read these lessons, believe me, I have been blessed.  Like this one on humility.  Dr. Piper first sketches a picture of himself as a well-known pastor, theologian, well-dressed, crisp shirt, straight tie, nice blazer and speaking to thousands, in command and control, and then John Piper gives us a picture of himself when, not long ago, he had to be in the hospital: hair askew, wearing a plain, wrinkled washed-out gown with an open back, shuffling down the hallway in bed booties, and holding onto an IV drip on a pole. Not a pretty picture!  But we’ve all been there, right?

In fact, most of us work hard to present a respectable image to others.  We dress well and check ourselves in the mirror before heading outside.  We’re in control of what we look like.  But put us in a hospital for a week, or even a day or two and all respectability goes out the window.  Because you know very well, there’s nothing more humiliating than having to wear a hospital gown, especially one that doesn’t tie in the back very well.  No, I take that back.  Nothing’s worse than having to use a bedpan; or not quite making it to the bathroom, right?  Hospitals are places of humiliation – but in God’s economy, that’s not a bad thing, for humiliation often sets the stage for humility.  Humility happens when you know how weak and needy you are.  In a hospital, we are viewed as helpless and weak, dependent and physically fragile, and definitely anything but attractive.

And the Bible keeps reminding us of the same thing.  Trouble is we forget it; we forget that we are, in fact, weak and dependent and physically fragile.  All of us are.  But hospitals have a way of shining the spotlight on the fact that, yes, outwardly we are wasting away.  Every day we are wearing out.  We are getting weaker and more vulnerable as every year goes by.  Hospitals just draw attention to that jarring reality.

But in contrast, isn’t it a wonderful thing (for example) let’s say to visit a dignified, attractive Christian woman in the hospital and find her at peace, feeling content, and outgoing toward her roommate and visitors, even though her hair may  not fixed, she has on no makeup, and her hospital gown is unflattering. It’s wonderful because it reveals in her a deeper beauty, an inner maturity.  You can see that she feels secure about herself; good about herself, even with no makeup on and with bed-head hair.  And that is really attractive; she knows outwardly she’s wasting away, but it’s that renewal inwardly day-by-day that you can actually see in her demeanor, and it is beautiful.  And it’s beautiful because it shows humility.

So if you have surgery scheduled soon, or if you know you’ll have to be in the hospital for extended tests, let that experience remind you of the intrinsic weakness and dependency you experience every day, we all experience.  And don’t forget to stop by and ask for your free copy of Dr. Piper’s “10 Lessons from a Hospital Bed.” Something you can give to a friend you know who’s in the hospital, or you can be blessed by the lessons yourself ,it’s a treasure, this little booklet by John Piper, so order your free copy today on my radio page at


© Joni and Friends


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