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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Scouring the Byways

The pediatric ward is full of some pretty pitiful people, and this morning I found my hard heart wishing that it wasn't. When I bent over to examine malnourished twins and smelled the alcohol wafting up on their mother's breath, I was annoyed with her. Then there was the two-year-old with a tiny head and puffy body whose father admitted he was tired of this handicapped child who cried all the time, which explains why the kid keeps landing on our doorstep as our problem in spite of months of supplemental food (third time he's shown up for admission in six months). Another frighteningly malnourished child's grandmother started complaining that she had not brought pans with her to cook in (which everyone does) and as we talked I realized in spite of her apparent helplessness and angling for yet more assistance, there were three competent women in this girl's life, both maternal and paternal grandmothers AND HER OWN MOTHER, gathered around the bed. It seems that when her father was arrested for stealing cocoa, her mother abandoned her to the care of one grandmother, and three years later they are all suddenly realizing that the girls is inches away from death. Then there is the abandoned-to-another grandmother cerebral palsy kid whose problems already seemed pretty unsolvable, even before she also tested positive for sickle cell disease today. Or the little girl with severe malaria whose mother complained she had no mosquito net, though whenl I pointed out that it was documented on her chart that she had received two within the last year, she quickly explained those had holes in them. In short there is hardly a patient on the ward whose suffering is not in some way related to poor parental choices, marriage quarrels, neglect, substance abuse, carelessness, or just plain hard knocks in this life. And it is like there is a neon sign on the roof of the hospital, calling all of the most un-fixable problems, the most mired-in-distress families, to pour on in.

But isn't that just what Jesus would want? Sure, I'd rather invite the relatively competent, "deserving", one-concrete-medical-issue-only types into the ward, the kind of kid that gets three doses of Quinine and smiles and walks away healthy. The kind of kid that one can feel a sense of accomplishment in helping. Instead Jesus tells the story of filling his feast from the highways and the byways, pulling in those at the margins, those that have messy lives and dysfunctional relationships. Because in reality, that is who we all are. Struggling parents, making bad choices, failing to love and provide, and needing grace.

Praying for a byway-scouring heart.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer,

I totally understand! Very convicting post - thanks!

Glad Scott & Caleb are back safely and you are together again.

Love,
Jennifer C.

Mrs. Edwards said...

Sometime ago I followed a link on another blog to your blog and have been reading and praying for you ever since. Thank you so much for sharing not just what you are doing, but the way in which you see Jesus speaking to you through all events.

Thank you for this post in particular. Such a good reminder of my own wretchedness and pride and the rich, great mercy of Christ. Sometimes his mercy seems richer when He gives it to hard cases, but the reality is that I am just as undeserving.

~Amy Edwards

Butterfly said...

I will pray that it begins to get easier for you. You are doing a good job. God bless you as you continue his work.

Debbie said...

hang in there. I appreciate your honesty. You are in my prayers often.

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