Wounded Healers All

(from Eric)

Nadia was admitted to my service last night. Two months ago, she delivered twins. One of them is doing well, but the other has had trouble and is admitted to our NICU. So she's been living at Kibuye taking care of her babies.

Apparently, last night, she went to get some dinner and had difficult breathing all of a sudden. She stumbled into the Emergency Room where her oxygen levels were super low and she was breathing way too fast. Her blood pressure and heart rate were also quite high. She was admitted to internal medicine where we did all the available tests that might help her, concluding finally that her heart is bad and her lungs have suddenly filled with fluid. 

We're doing what we can, but I fear for her. I fear that we won't be able to pull her out of this, and that her twin babies will lose their mother, who seemed perfectly well twenty-four hours ago. Despite maximal oxygen therapy, she still has low oxygen levels and is breathing quite fast. Our team is gathered around her bed.


Also admitted to our service is Pastor Elie. Elie was a chaplain at Kibuye for decades. He's retired now, but has massively out-of-control diabetes. Despite all our effort, he has lost tons of weight, and he gets admitted for a few days during most months of the year. His disease is super challenging, but he's survived a lot longer than most people around here with a similar problem because of ready access to the hospital. 

As soon as he feels better, he's usually wandering around the hospital talking with old friends. In fact, this morning, we passed by his room and he wasn't there.


Gathered around Nadia's bed, we have made all our medical decisions. She is still not doing well. Her mom has the healthy twin bundled up on her back. I'm wanting to pray for her. My Kirundi prayers are quite halting, but since Nadia is conscious, it seems like praying in Kirundi might encourage her.

Suddenly Pastor Elie walks up. He knows that we came by his room when he was out chatting. We answer his questions, and then I ask him if he would be willing to lead us in a Kirundi prayer for Nadia.

He answers without hesitation. "This is my job." He places his hand on her shoulder and begins to pray. From his words, I can tell that he is aware of her situation and that her other baby is already admitted in the hospital. Apparently, Elie's visits to the hospital help him keep his ear to the ground.

It's a beautiful picture. One obviously ill patient leading us all to pray for the healing of another. We do not help each other to healing only from some kind of disease-free platform of security. We are wounded healers, just like our Savior.


And then there's me. My body is more or less intact, but my heart is struggling. I'm leading my team of students and nurses, teaching them the best way to take care of these patients, but knowing that we won't succeed in a good number of cases. We're praying for healing and compassion and understanding, and even as we pray, I'm struggling to believe for these things. I wish my heart could be content with the situations in which I find myself, content to just be faithful in the daily work in front of me, but it's hard. My heart doesn't react the way I wish it would.

In the television series The Chosen, the producers gave James the Lesser (or "little James"), one of the disciples, a physical disability, and then Jesus sends him out to heal. He struggles to understand why he is not healed, and how he could be a vessel for healing when he is himself broken. The scene is extra-biblical, but the themes discussed are not. Jesus speaks of God being glorified from James praising Him even though is not healed, precisely because he knows that there will be healing in the end. 

Healing for Nadia and Elie. Healing for my own heart and all of us striving to bring life and wholeness in the midst of our own brokenness. Wounded healers all.


48 hours later update: "Nadia" has actually done much better than I was expecting. In a way that we don't often see here (without super intensive care), she has been pulled back from the brink and is breathing much better (though still on a lot of oxygen). Sometimes I'm hesitant to hope in such situations, since we're not out of danger, but I'm grateful for how it's going and pray it will continue.


7 days later update: "Nadia" discharged home today. Her baby was also discharged, so they will actually go home. Just taking some pills. So thankful!


B Dice said...

We live and work at Malamulo in Malawi. I hear you. Adding your family and ministry to our prayers.

Emmanuel chang said...

Thanks for sharing Eric. It is so tough with the knowledge that we have and the daily grind to have THE miracle working faith. Will definitely continue to keep you and your family in my prayers. May His grace continue to be sufficient and renewing and may God show His healing power on these patients you are currently caring. All the best, Emmanuel