The first day we even stepped foot into the country of Honduras, and Mike and I walked into the community of Armenia Bonito, a small 3,000 person community in the jungles of Honduras, we were overwhelmed with the immensity of what we were encountering. The despair, the poverty, substandard living situations, and health conditions. And it was easy to succumb to the immensity of it. But her words haunted me.
There are more than 2,000 references in the bible related to children and poverty.
Psalm 82:3-4 Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
1 John 3:17-18 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
Interesting, as I have returned to work in the hospital while on furlough, and am working once again on the pediatric oncology floor, I find that these words speak to me just as deeply. Every room I walk into is a child inflicted with cells that are growing out of control - that are taking over their little bodies, and I am either desperately trying to save them from a severe infection by giving them life-saving antibiotics, or pumping poison into their veins with chemotherapy to try and stop the spread of those out of control cells. I walk into rooms of children who have no hair on their heads, throwing up into buckets, their parents sitting helpless holding their frail little bodies as they groan in agony. I rally myself each and every room I walk into - to put the face on that I need to put on - the one of compassion, yet the one of efficiency. The face of kindness, yet the mindset of getting my job done. I must continue in my endeavors to try and care for this little one who has been entrusted to me, and yet not lose it when the little 5 year old girl with just a whisp of hair looks at me with her big eyes and asks if she is going to be okay. Because the truth is - I just don't know.
To find that oh so very narrow road - and walk it with integrity, mercy, and efficiency is a narrow road indeed. Having enough compassion to not be exhausted or frustrated when you have given all the medications you can possibly give, and yet still have a sweet child who is suffering, and somehow be "okay" and know that you have done the best that you can do.
Because to go down the wide road, to take on all the burdens that have been laid before you means you will not be able to walk down that road again and again and again...day after day after day.
Working on an oncology floor...working on the mission field...there are so many similarities - I guess I never made the connection before I went to Honduras - but the despair, loneliness, hopelessness can seem much of the same.
To give a sliver of hope - a light in the darkness - a smile and some compassion and a hug to those who are suffering - is what gives me the ability to go from day to day. The job of a hospital nurse, the role of a missionary nurse in a third world country - how much they overlap, I never realized before.
But to maintain myself to go on from day to day - I can't take that last step into the depth of despair with that child, with that family, with that diagnosis or station in life - because I wouldn't be able to climb back out to be able to look after the next family, the next child, the next situation. After all, I am not responsible FOR that person, I am only responsible TO that person. And that I promise - you have me 100% - each and every time.
Just some musings as I work these
last few months in the hospital, and as I am looking at my return to Honduras and back to the overwhelming poverty and despair in the country - words to rally myself, and to remind myself. My job is this...
- to be obedient to God (Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Matthew 28:19).
- He has led me here (Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" - Isaiah 6:8)
- He will not fail me (The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged - Deuteronomy 31:8)
- He will equip me (Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21)