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There is a Hospital for the Soul in Your Town
Where do you go if you are overcome with inner unease, stress or despair? There is hope. Visit a hospital of the soul in your community.

We're driving along, and the red light comes on, on the dash of our car. Coupled with that red light, we hear a strange sound from the motor of our vehicle. With no more warning than that, we decide to get the car to the mechanic to find out what's wrong, or to seek necessary repairs.

Without warning, we feel a tightness in our chest, or a sharp stabbing pain. At once we are alarmed, and determine to see our doctor as soon as possible.

Neither of these circumstances require deep thought. The symptom presents itself, catches our attention and we know where to go and what to do.

… people who have turmoil of heart are exactly the ones Jesus came to heal and restore.

But what happens when we feel sick inside and it is not physical? What happens when the red light comes on in our conscience and we may or may not know the reason for it and don't know what to do about it? That sense of inner turmoil of heart, of being ill at ease, of a lack of peace, is a symptom of a problem just as real as the warning light or the unexplained pain. But where do we go? To whom do we turn? Too often, we do nothing, which is the equivalent of ignoring or even smashing the red warning light on the dash.

May I suggest an alternative that is much overlooked in our day?

In every community, there are pastors who are trained in meeting human needs. They know by personal experience the human condition, and have access to "the owner's manual." Usually they are approachable and willing to take time to listen to those who call upon them. If they are true men of God, they have a personal relationship with the One who made us, and who knows everything about us.

Dealing with spiritual need is precisely why Jesus came into this world. When He was accused of hobnobbing with people of ill repute, Jesus said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick … For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." In other words, "good people" may feel no need of spiritual help, but people who have turmoil of heart are exactly the ones Jesus came to heal and restore.

Hand in hand with the pastor is the local church—a resource available to every person in the community. Spiritual assistance is exactly the kind of help churches have to offer. A church is a place where those who have become aware of "the red light on the dash," find forgiveness, and healing and comfort and strength for daily living. It is a place of fellowship with others who have also experienced an inner need and are finding answers to their questions and concerns.

If you recognize any of the symptoms, there is a "hospital for the soul" not far away that will welcome you!

Allen Hern is the pastor of Cowichan Lake Baptist Church, British Columbia. He can be reached at

Originally published in The Lake Cowichan Gazette, January 12, 2005.




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