18 September 2014

Lessons from a Tetanus Survivor

'Thank you,' S. whispered to me in English before transitioning back to Hausa.  'I thought I was dead, but you gave me my life back.'

We were sitting on a mat, under a tree in the Ambulatory Care Unit behind the hospital.  Already today she had done her own laundry in a modified position and climbed a small set of stairs.  A world away from relearning how to swallow her own saliva.

I looked up from the patch of sand where I was etching designs with a stick.

Our eyes met, and I smiled.

'Thank you, my friend,' she repeated and she leaned her forehead against mine.


Over the past few weeks, I've been thinking a lot about Jesus and His promise to redeem all things.

At the start of the month, M., one of our faithful therapy patients, passed away . . . we had been treating her for many months after a severe stroke left her partially paralyzed and unable to speak.  Ultimately, it was untreated typhoid that ripped through her bowel wall and claimed her life.  She died waiting for emergency surgery.

When I came to Niger I didn't understand what it meant to have a 'theology of suffering'.

I have one now.

Without it, I think I might have abandoned my faith all together.

But Jesus shows up.  Time and again.  Right when I need it.

In the eighth chapter of his letter to the Roman church, the Apostle Paul details our hope in the midst of suffering as we wait with hope for the promise of redemption . . . he says it's nothing compared to the glory we will experience when all things are made new.

As I sat under that tree, on a mat, next to a living miracle, I tried to keep my soul from asking the question why one and not the other.

The truth is, that we are each like Job . . . declaring things too wonderful that we cannot understand (42:2-6) . . . as S. listened to the first part of story of Mariama's Son who healed the sick and had compassion on the brokenhearted, I thanked Him for her healing and second chance.

Death transformed into life.

'I thought I was dead, but you gave me back my life.'

Her words echoed through my thoughts.

But Jesus didn't only come to give us physical life.  He came to give abundant life . . . a life that would never end.

The Water of Life that satisfies the deepest longings of our souls.  The Bread of Life that sustains us.
A life that is transformed from darkness to light.

'I thought I was dead, but you gave me back my life.'

As she pressed her forehead against mine, the closest to a hug her still-rigid body would allow, I tried to remember the last time I rested my head against my Father's and whispered: I thought I was dead, but you gave me back my life.

Indescribable grace . . . overwhelming gratitude.  I have so much to learn.

1 comment:

Linda Watt said...

You got it! The first lesson--on suffering!