Patients going through their recovery process at the Rehabilitation Hospital usually need more than just their bodies healed. That’s where Chaplain Marty Measel, a student at Concordia Theological Seminary, comes in.
“The rehabilitation process includes an emotional component along with physical healing,” said Measel.
“Many patients are struggling to gain physical strength and mobility, but they are also wrestling with spiritual questions, such as ‘Why would God let this happen to me?’
“Many patients need to grieve the loss of a bodily function or their independence,” Measel continued. “A chaplain can help in these circumstances. By talking and praying about spiritual concerns, listening, offering a shoulder to cry on or simply being present, a chaplain can comfort a person and assist in the emotional and spiritual healing process that occurs with physical calamities.”
Measel, who along with 20 other full and part-time chaplains serves both Rehab and Lutheran hospitals, works with patients and their families as well as staff members.
“Some family members will become the long-term caregivers for a patient,” said Measel. “They may feel distraught or burdened and will struggle with spiritual questions. Sometimes, staff members become overwhelmed by a patient’s circumstances, and they may request to talk to a chaplain as well.”
Chaplains initiate contact with a patient immediately if they are requested. They also make rounds and visit all patients who are willing to receive them. They visit with individuals and listen to their stories, concerns and issues. Sometimes, just listening is enough. But chaplains may also offer to read the Bible or a devotional, sing a hymn and/or pray. Contact with patients ceases once they leave the hospital.
Although Measel is fairly new to chaplaincy, he is currently completing Lutheran Hospital’s 11-week Clinical Pastoral Education program and will begin his third year of seminary after the summer program ends. He thoroughly enjoys comforting and encouraging those who are encountering spiritual problems.
“I visited with a patient who had a severe stroke and was having doubts about God’s presence,” said Measel. “She felt lonely and abandoned. I listened to her, cried with her and reassured her of Christ’s love. We sang hymns and said many prayers over the course of multiple visits, and eventually, the comforting thoughts and prayers brought her peace.
“I find it rewarding to know that I am helping to bring Christ to people who are hurting and helping them find spiritual healing,” Measel added. “That’s why I do what I do.”