my friend and fellow writer Richard and the sick baby.
Yesterday, I again visited the Liberian children I had mentioned on Monday. This time, all seven kids were there. Two of the little boys looked really sick. There bellies were distended and fluid filled, and their faces puffy. Classic signs of congestive heart failure. But those two boys will most likely receive surgery and hopefully, will soon be running around without any problems.
But there is one little baby who won't.
When I walked in I immediately noticed him. He's five-months-old, but looks about two-months-old. He has hydrocephalus and his head is swollen. His belly painfully protrudes from an uncorrected hernia. As he breathed, I noticed sub-sternal retractions and nasal flaring, signs of respiratory distress. He is really sick. You could just tell.
But in spite of it all, he was amazingly alert. As I peered into his eyes he stared right back. I put out my finger towards his hand and he wrapped all five of his small fingers around it. He was sweet.
My friend Ali told me the grandfather of a child who died at the hospital said, "Some of the children got to go back." You can never tell with these things, but if I had to guess, I'd say it won't be long until this baby is nestled in the arms of Jesus.
The suffering of children is always unnerving. Working in a Pediatric ICU, filled with kids who had to"go back", I spent months trying to reconcile a God of love with their sufferings. It never made any sense. I don't think it ever will. But something about it directs me towards heaven.
I've had a lyric from a Brooke Fraser song stuck in my head all week, which says,
I've heard rumors of true reality/whispers of a well-lit way.
Looking at that little sick baby, I needed to believe there is a true reality, one beyond the physical that is seen. I had to believe that Jesus was whispering to him. That there was a special fleet of angels assigned to his care.
My definition of 'reality' is always challenged when I'm here. Life on the Africa Mercy is far removed from 'normal' life. You wouldn't call it 'reality' on American terms. But after experiencing the blessing of showing someone mercy, the joy of serving God, and the treasure of holding the hands of the poor, I don't know that the American version of 'reality' holds much weight.
It's funny, the first time I was here I was constantly thinking about what life would be like when I returned to 'the real world'. And then I returned; and I didn't quit fit. Echo's of "there must be more than this," haunted me. And yet I found the buzz, the business, the pressures of 'The real world" drowned the whisper of a well-lit way. They felt real. But only for so long.
When we are confronted with mortality, suddenly the volume of it all is turned down and our hearts can hear them. The whispers. The Spirit leading us towards that which endures.
The moments of tension, the things that don't make sense, will make or destroy our faith. But if we let the pressure cause us to search out the heart of God, we will never be disappointed. For in Him, we will learn of True Reality.
The rumors are true.