And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. ~ 1 Kings 19:12, KJV

The beeper buzzed. The emergency department was already calling with another admission. It was March of my internship, and I was starting another 36-hour call. The snow was still on the ground outside, and my mood inside was blue. I went into the trauma room to see why they were calling, and my heart sank. It was an elderly woman who was comatose. I looked to see if she was breathing but was not sure. I raised her left arm to check for a pulse, and her arm flopped toward me in an unnatural manner. The humerus was completely fractured.

I started doing the resuscitative procedures while thinking, thankfully, she was comatose and not feeling any pain. She had a history of multiple myeloma that had eroded the bones away in several places. In addition, she had sunken craters in her forehead. The steroids she was on had induced a hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state.

As each lab report was returned to me, it contained another problem that needed to be addressed. I worked through them, one at a time, thinking my goal would be to provide comfort measures until the cancer had run its natural course. However, the Lord had other plans.

She was moved to the ICU and lived through my 36 hours on call. To my amazement, she was alive the next day, and the next. A few days later, the nurses told me she was speaking, which I could not help but question. However, her vital signs stabilized to the point she was ready to be moved to the floor.

As always is the case in an internship, my turn for call came again. I was patrolling the hallway and raiding the fridge when I heard music coming from her room. The voice was broken and halting, but it was my patient singing with friends and family, “Shall We Gather at the River?” To a tired and lonely intern, it sounded like angels singing from Heaven.

When I looked in her room, she had her Bible in her hand, trying to hold it up with her good arm while the broken arm was in a makeshift splint. The picture was inspirational, and I could envision angels helping her hold the Bible. I had missed church many times due to my internship, but this scene was the most powerful sermon I had heard in a long time.

God speaks to us in many ways. I have had the privilege of meeting many dynamic people in my career who have truly inspired me. However, none have influenced me the way this lady did at a time when I needed it. I received praise from my fellow residents for making the great “save” on this patient. But I knew in my heart the reason this lady lived. She had one more sermon to preach before she was going to rest-waiting to be “gathered at the river.”

T. Martin Kelly, LLUSM class of 1985, is an attending physician in the emergency medicine residency program at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center in Fort Hood, Texas.