We examine what justice, mercy, and love look like when applied to our faith, attitudes, speech, and actions. And yesterday, words were put to what I've been feeling and struggling through:
An underlying theme throughout the Word of God is the way followers of Yahweh are to treat the poor the suffering and the oppressed. The prophet Amos passed on the words of God to the people of Israel:
Take away from Me the noise of your songs [of praise]; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (5:23&24)And we can't leave out the well-sung words of Micah:
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what the Lord requires of you. But to live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. (6:8)
The wisdom of Solomon passed down in his Proverbs records many nuggets concerning our conduct toward the poor:
One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed . . . . to do righteousness and justice is desired by the Lord more than sacrifice . . . . he who shuts off his ear to the poor will cry himself and not be answered . . . . do not rob the poor because he is poor, or crush the afflicted; for the Lord will plead their case and take the life of those who rob them. (3:17; 21:3, 13; 22:22&23)Over the past few months I feel like I've been struggling with the same lessons and hurts over and over again. And just when I think I've grasped how to cope in this surreal environment where suffering and hardship, pain and hopelessness are common place, I realize I haven't even scratched the surface.
As an Occupational Therapist, it is the nature of the profession to invest in the Living outcomes of our patients. Our job is wrapped up in the quality of another person's life. Doctors and nurses make a career out of giving 'life' . . . OT's give 'living'. Doctors make hearts beat . . . OT's make hearts sing. Both are vital . . . quantity and quality.
Yet, here in Galmi, often we can give neither. And there is a battle to cope with a new definition of success.
But, lately I think I have been taking on (as BethMoore says) 'God's responsibility' without realizing it. And so when He allows the cessation of the restoration process, I feel confused. And when I have invested in that which is taken away, I feel angry. And without being aware of it, I have found a lifestyle 'full of mercy' to be agonizingly exhausting.
Yesterday, as we were watching the video of her teaching, BethMoore shared a story about a little girl with a brain tumor that she had been praying for. She had the opportunity to meet this child in person, but she avoided it . . . because she knew it would only end in pain. One day, she said, she was driving on the highway and burst into tears, crying out the Lord, 'I TOLD YOU THIS WOULD HAPPEN!'
Oh how I identified with her story.
And there has comes a point in the self-protection process that happens when I try to do this work on my own emotional and spiritual strength when I just want to say, 'LORD, THIS HURTS! AND IT'S YOUR FAULT! BECAUSE I KNEW THIS WOULD HURT BUT YOU MADE ME GET IN THERE ANYWAY!'
But, if my faith in Jesus is real, and I have been called to a lifestyle of mercy in this broken world, MERCY IS GOING TO HURT. And so, if I'm going to live as one who is known as His disciple, I am choosing to accept that the hurt and sadness I feel as I walk with my patients through their recovery process is a blessing . . . because it the way that I can help those suffering around me experience the love that Jesus brought to the earth.
To give dignity, acknowledgement, gentleness, kind words, a smile, a pair of crutches, a splint, a cast . . . a cup of cold water. It is all for Him.
The brother of the little girl who died earlier this week has more severe burns than another of our other patients. I was certain he'd be close on her heels to enter eternity. On Thursday I told myself not to invest . . . clean, bandage, stretch and position . . . but DO NOT invest . . . he'll be gone soon.
But on Friday morning, he was still breathing . . . his little heart, still beating.
I prayed, begging the Lord to keep me from having to go any further with him. I just didn't want to.
In the afternoon, I hesitantly rounded the corner, convinced he'd be dead. His body was covered by a white sheet, the IV disconnected. And just as I was congratulating myself on the wisdom of having not invested, the body beneath the sheet raised with a breath and lowered as he exhaled!
HE WAS STILL ALIVE!
His father had covered him to keep the flies off . . . the nurse was coming with a new bottle of fluid.
I stood there shocked; the Holy Spirit whispered 'How's that for a miracle? Don't just stand there, Deb., you have work to do.'
I approached the bed and greeted his father.
As I drew the sheet back from his charred face, I breathed deeply and responded to the Spirit. 'Okay, You've done Your part . . . I'll do mine. You're going to work a miracle here . . . alright . . . then let's do this!'
I stopped in yesterday to see how he was doing . . . half doubting again. Still unable to do much more than open and close his left hand and his right eye, we attempted to make funny faces at one another (that's the technical term for facial-stretching-exercises). Three minutes was all he could take. But Monday we will shoot for four.
And while I am still struggling to replace my doubt with hope, I am choosing to show mercy despite how deep it may hurt in the end.