April 26, 2015: Vital Signs – from a hospital chaplain

Posted on : Apr 23rd, 2015 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

How do we know that we are spiritually alive? I work every day in the medical setting as a hospital chaplain. Medical staff assess patients all the time, looking at their medical vital signs to evaluate their physical health.

As a chaplain, I make spiritual assessments. As I listen to a person’s story, I assess their spirit. I listen for those things that provide meaning and support to their spirit. I listen to their emotional and spiritual distress. I listen for indicators of their spiritual well-being, and I provide spiritual and emotional interventions that contribute to whatever provides meaning to their spirit.

In our Season of Easter, we have been looking at the Vital Signs of Being Spiritually Alive. This Sunday, I want to share a vital sign of being spiritually alive: Having that sense of knowing that God is with us.

Psalm 23 is perhaps one of the most familiar of all Scriptures. In the hospital setting, it’s amazing how many people request this Psalm to be read in times of emotional and spiritual distress, in times of facing the unknown, or even nearing the end of life.

What is it about this psalm that resonates with so many people?

Not too many of us here probably know that much about shepherds and sheep, but yet there’s something powerful in the words of this psalm that draw many to it. I wonder if it’s the honesty behind these words. This psalm does not paint an only rosy-pictured perfect world. Instead, we see God as one that leads us and walks with us in an array of good and even very difficult circumstances. In fact, at the very center of this psalm, the psalmist says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” We are not promised a world void of heartache, pain, suffering and grief, but we are assured that we are not alone. God is indeed with us.

Having that sense of knowing that God is with us is a powerful vital sign of our spiritual well-being. This Sunday, we will be looking more at this idea. I hope that you will join us.


Jerod Yates


Psalm 23


God is my shepherd, I shall not want;

God makes me lie down in green pastures,

and leads me beside still waters;

God restores my soul.

God leads me in paths of righteousness

for God’s name’s sake.


Even though I walk through the valley

of the shadow of death, I fear no evil;

for you, God, are with me;

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.


You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life;

and I shall dwell in the house of God forever.


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