Thankful for Tears

IMG_0242In the face of utter suffering and devastation there is still hope. Today I had to remind myself of that fact.

This morning an abandoned infant died just a quarter of a mile from our medical centre. We heard there was a baby left alone, and we began to mobilize. We were ready to do emergency care, to rush in, to rescue… And in the blink of an eye, we learned that the baby was already dead. The baby had been left by the river during the night. I don’t even know if it was a boy or a girl. I just know that, that precious life slipped away, alone, by the side of a bridge.

I sat in my office with a blank stare out the window. How do you keep your heart soft, and keep on keeping on? How do you not fall apart, and run away crying? And on the flip side, how do you not take the other way out? Become hardened and insensitive to suffering? Straighten up, throw your shoulders back, and say “That’s life. It stinks, but it is what it is.” and then just go on with your day? Where is the balance?

As I was still processing these thoughts, I was informed that there was a patient whose need was beyond what we could meet. And yet her caregivers did not want to leave since they heard she could find hope here. They had traveled over 20 kilometers on the back of a motorbike to reach us. It didn’t take long to see how bad the situation was. When I realized the woman was the same age as me, it was that much more emotional. She was wasting away and could no longer eat. I reviewed her medical records and saw that the family had tried so hard. She has taken her medicines. She has attended all of her appointments. And yet she is dying. Her 18-year-old daughter grabbed my heart. It was an overwhelming situation. But I realized her daughter was right, they had come to a place where hope could be found.

I learned a long time ago that no matter what is going on physically, I can always, always, pray with a patient. And so we prayed together. I asked God to be present. I prayed that he would reveal himself to this precious lady, her daughter, and her sister. I prayed that they would know and experience his love, and his hope that is everlasting; that hope that cannot spoil, fade, or be ripped away by even death.

As I drove them to a hospice where she can receive quality palliative care, I fought back tears. And then I remembered my thoughts of earlier this morning. I realized that I was thankful that I could cry. Every morning I ask the Lord to fill me with his spirit. I want to always be able to weep with those who weep. I want my heart to stay soft. I want to see my patients through the eyes of Jesus. I want to show them his love, his kindness, his hope. So today, today I am thankful that I can still weep. And I am even more thankful that there is a hope that lives beyond death.