Tuesday, January 18

God Still Is

The last two days at work were rough. Really rough. Not because I don't love what I do, and not because of my co-workers, but rather for what I have seen. For what I have seen has made my heart ache in a way that it has not ached since I was in Africa.

When I was in Tchad, every day brought more suffering into my scope of awareness. Granted, my time in Tchad was not solely filled with sorrow and suffering; there was joy, too. But my eyes were opened to the pain and suffering around me in the listless eyes of those too exhausted to weep anymore, in the mother's sobs over the death of her child, in the harsh cruelty of a desert land. And I think that I had forgotten, in part, that sorrow and despair are not confined to foreign lands.

The last two days at work, I was assigned to check IVs on several floors, including the hospice unit and the oncology (cancer) floor. I don't know if I had just been blind and my eyes were finally re-opened in the last two days, or if there has just been a sudden increase in the amount of suffering recently, but whatever the case, I was made more aware of the pain and suffering that exists all around me.

One man was sleeping-- peacefully, it seemed. His daughter was outside the room on the phone, and I overheard her in a strained voice explaining to another family member what the doctors had told her. "He only has a few more weeks at most. So right now we're just trying to keep him comfortable. They said that as time goes on, he will just start sleeping more and more..." Her voice trailed off.

On Sunday, I had changed out an old IV for an elderly woman on hospice unit who was very much still with it. She had many family members in the room, and she talked back and forth with each of them. Monday, I walked in to check her IV, and the family members were still there, chatting with each other while she lay in bed, awake, but with eyes closed from tiredness. A tiredness that seemed less like a tiredness from lack of sleep and more like a tiredness of fighting.

I had greeted a man on Sunday in hospice and asked, "How are you doing today?" "Oh, pretty good, pretty good," he had replied with a polite smile. I chatted for a minute and commented on the sunshine coming into his large window. Monday morning, I asked again, in cheerful tones, "How are you today?" His reply was as discouraging as the grey sky outside the window. "Not very well today. I'm worried sick about my wife. She's here in the hospital too, and I can't seem to get a hold of her." We talked a bit, and I gave him some advice on how he might get in touch with his wife. I tried to remain cheerful as I bid him goodbye.

The next room on hospice was an even sharper blow to my heart. An older man, a mere skeleton of himself, sat in bed with hollow eyes that remained completely unpenetrated by my cheery, upbeat demeanor. He responded to my questions, but I felt like I was interacting with a shadow of a man rather than a real human. I can't hardly explain what it was in his eyes and voice that struck me so deeply, except to say that where life should have been, an apathy devoid of hope had settled in.

But what really pierced my heart was seeing a dear friend of mine in the hospital. It's like a nightmare really. To see someone your own age very ill and fatigued. It made me realize once again that Satan is no respecter of persons. Evil has no regard for age, innocence, or character and attacks indiscriminately and brutally.

I can't tell you how many times I came close to crying at work yesterday because I lost count. But in the solitude of my car on my way home, I listened to a song of home-- heaven-- and cried. I can't remember the last time my heart ached so badly to be home, to be rid of the seemingly endless pain and sorrow caused by the absence of Love-- the presence of Satan and sin.

Somehow, through all that happened, I was really beginning to feel that God was very far away. But when I got home, I saw something posted by a friend, and it reminded me that despite all the suffering and pain, God still is. And in the end, Love wins. Here's the full poem:

Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The Carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
'There is no peace on earth,' I said;
'For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!'

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
'God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!'


Katalin said...

The pain we feel is a reminder that this is not our home. We're all praying.

Christen said...
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Kelsey said...

Hmm... I'd never read all the words to that carol. Powerful!

I appreciate your honesty and this post, Kristin. Times are distressing. I'm praying, too.

Dorinda said...

Appreciate your post. I love that carol. As you know, I care for patients with lung cancer and esophageal cancer. My heart aches for heaven too.

erin_eliz said...

The poem was beautiful.

Heaven is closer all the time. I'm praying, too.

Caitlin said...

'God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!'

I love you! Thank you for everything!

ReRe said...
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ReRe said...

you have lived what some pray 'BREAK MY HEART WITH WHAT BREAKS YOURS LORD.' You were touched by the Lord's hand; how beautiful!

qq said...

that's true,god never sleep..and he always whit us