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Sunday, February 12, 2017

In this world you WILL have trouble

Two days ago we hoped that would be the last post on the Kenyan Doctor Strike.  What was I thinking?  The stalemate continues, and no one knows when it will end.  So tomorrow we start week 11 of this chronic crisis.

While we need prayers to continue for the hearts of the government to change (last night, after working another horrific and long day, we tried to get groceries but the whole town was shut down as people thronged the streets for a triumphant political rally as the motorcade of the President swept into town . . . and all I could think is, why are we cheering?  Where is the protest?  Doesn't anyone care?) and the hearts of the doctors to change (to their credit they've backed away from the massive salary boost and settled for a smaller one . . . but this weekend same as last one the person sharing calls with Scott simply didn't show up, perhaps fear of safety if caught working by the union, so mothers with potentially fatal complications were sent away in labor), what I know that I most desperately need is for MY HEART to change.  

Because feeling tired erodes my calm acceptance of the situation, and turns me mean.  And self-righteous.  And critical of those who seem to be making things worse.  Help! (The xray is a baby with lungs full of meconium, which is a nice word for poop, and symbolizes the suffocating feeling of the atmosphere of frustration, the need for a clear breath and a clean heart).

It's all about expectation, as Scott keeps reminding me.  Saturday I was under some illusion that perhaps a weekend day could be shorter.  That the two clinical officers who said they would be there to help me would actually do so.  But one had been re-assigned and one had a family member sick, and by the time I walked in to find that the 3-death day was actually a 4-death day, and that another baby had taken a plunge for the worse and needed urgent attention, and as I was working on that one I noticed yet another new baby who was purple and not long for this world, and the oxygen tubing was leaking, and the IV pump we got to work a few days earlier was now not functional. . . all I could do was work steadily to squeeze oxygen into lungs, calculate new antibiotics, listen, prod for IV's, fill syringes for blood tests, organize the two overwhelmed nurses to address the sickest priorities.  Mid-day I did get some help, but it still took 6-7 hours to sort everything out.  I left with the two newly-discovered critical infants both much better, called in about them during the night, but this morning found out both had died.  It feels discouraging and futile.  Today Scott is sorting out chaos, and about to start a C-section on a woman with her 10th pregnancy, whose uterus may already be ruptured.  It doesn't look good.

I am a fighter by nature, and I don't usually want to give up.  But at this moment, it looks very tempting.

So the daily Bible readings jumped out, as they sometimes will when one is desperate.

First was from Genesis 3-- I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception, in pain you shall bring forth children . . . Cursed is the ground for your sake, in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.  Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you . . In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.  Why do I expect things to flow, to work properly, to be rewardingly successful?  This world is broken, and putting it right takes serious push.  Your hands get scraped by thorns, sweat drips in your eyes, and conceptions multiply as most end in sorrow.

Second was from John 16--In this world you will have trouble (as in Genesis 3 above).  BUT BE OF GOOD CHEER.  I have overcome the world.  And there is the place it all hinges.  In the depth of this muck, you can still have cheer.  NT Wright comments "It's all happening because, with Jesus' death and resurrection, a new world--the new world--is indeed being born.  This is what John wants us to grasp.  This isn't just a matter of Jesus saying 'there's trouble coming, but it will be all right afterwards'.  It's a matter of seeing that when we find ourselves, a few chapters from now, at the foot of the cross, and then when we find ourselves after that with Mary Magdalene in the Easter garden, we shouldn't miss the significance of these events.  They are not merely strange, shocking and even unique.  They are the visible sign that God's new world really is coming to birth.  . . Somehow, even in the worst that is to come, the disciples can have a peace that will carry them through.  This peace doesn't come from a detached, philosophical attitude.  It isn't a matter of saying, 'Oh well, these things happen.'  It isn't a shrug of the shoulders resigning yourself to the world being a nasty place and there being nothing much you can do about it.  It's a matter of standing on the ground that Jesus is going to win--indeed, that here he claims to have won already.  'You'll have trouble in the world; but cheer up, Ive defeated the world!'"

So pray we could stand on the ground that's already won, that we would work with the courage that all tears will end.  Pray against a hardening of the heart, that says, oh well, babies die.  Pray against an anger at others.  Pray for the resilience to love, even now, even here.  Pray for good cheer.

If you read this far, here's some cheer, the best name I've seen on an admission list all year:  Lucky Pizza.  Truly.


Charles Woernle said...

Y'all are in my prayers. I am encouraged your posts always end on the "high note" of faith despite the dire troubles and disappointments of the present reality. Mungu atusaidie kila siku.

Jill said...

I am sorry the strike didn't end yet. It does feel like everything is askew in the world. It is comforting to know that the last will be first someday... I continue to pray for you and your community.

Anonymous said...

I don't know you, but I just wanted to say thank you for caring for these babies and their moms. Thank you for giving up your comfortable lives, thanks for facing the pain and grief and thank you for showing them that they DO matter. You are beatifull examples of Christs love for a broken world. Don't give up the good work! The time for the harvest will come (Galatians 6:8-10). I'm praying for you.

With love, a medical student from the Netherlands