I smell like smoke

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I have to be honest and admit that this past week has been a tough one. For those of you who do not already know, Jastin is a 2 year old boy from our church who has become seriously ill.
At one point this week I thought he was going to die because his family did not have the money for a life saving surgery.
I am not sure if you have ever held a child's face in your hands and known that he was going to die simply from lack of money or not- but I can tell you this:
It is a physically painful knowledge. I wanted to save this child. I wanted to write emails back home and talk to everyone I knew. I wanted to give the family the 1000.00 it would take to save his life.
And yet, now the surgery is a moot point. It is now known that the surgery will not save his life. The spleen that we had hoped to remove because it was enlarged and pushing into his liver, is enlarged because he has Leukemia.

Everyone around me smells like smoke. Let me explain.

Our good friends here are Louis and Vivi. We work with them at the cafe, fellowship with them, Bible study with them, and Louis is also our pastor.
This week, the four of us have been consumed by this pending disaster.
Louis has spent his time negotiating with the hospital. Vivi has been with the mother, Dustan has held down the fort at home and shopped for the family, and I have sat in the waiting room holding the family's youngest child while the mother ran from pharmacy to pharmacy trying to get the best price on medicines.

Earlier this week I visited Jastin in his room and entered to the sound of growling. Jastin's father Max was entertaining his little boy, pretending to be a bear. My heart crumbled and I wondered why God would do this to a family. To a TWO year old.

Okay, so let me be very honest here. I was incredible angry with God. And I wasn't the only one with smoke coming out my ears. I thought Louis would going to wage a one man war on the Red cross of Ecuador because it has been so difficult to get the blood for transfusions that Jastin needs to survive (he is bleeding profusely from his nose). Dustan and I fought over little things, Louis and Vivi fought, life has been a big ball of stress and it was showing.
What was God doing? God brought to mind all the familiar Bible verses.
He reminded that in Romans I am told that I should rejoice in hard times. That hard times bring forth perseverance, character, and hope.
I wailed at God that I liked my character just the way it was, and that I thought the parents of this little boy were pretty awesome just like they were. And the hope that we are promised? I looked at the situation, a boy losing so much blood in a country here you can only get blood by giving blood, in a country where most medical procedures have to be paid up front, and where the monthly income is less than 300.00 and I did not feel any hope. In fact, the thought of hope scared me. What if I hoped too much and this child died? The pain would be unbearable, perhaps it was better to steel myself for the tragedy and skip the route of hope altogether.

After my wailing at God for a bit, the verse in Isaiah 43:2 came to mind. This verse declares that I can walk through the fire without being burned.
Ummm, okay, the Bible is 100% true, but this verse brought me no comfort. This process has been seriously painful. I felt burned.

And then, as I sat with Vivi and Louis wanting to cry as I watched them suffer, while I was thinking about Jastin's mother who can not even be with her son unless someone is downstairs to hold her nursing baby, and about his father who has not left the hospital in a week, God brought to my mind three young men who stood at the feet of a tyrant-King looking straight into the worse disaster imaginable.

I remembered what they said when the King threatened to throw them into the hottest furnace in history:
"Oh King, Our God can deliver us from this furnace.
BUT
If even if He does not, We will only worship Him."

And there, in the declaration that these young men would worship God even if they perished and suffered a horrible death, I found the comfort I had been looking for.

God can heal this child. He can find the money that the family needs for treatment. He can miraculously work and this boy could live!
God is able to deliver him (and us).
But even if he does not. Even if we, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego get thrown into the fire and this little boy dies, and even if this family suffers from financial crisis trying to get him treatment, even if I have to watch the worse suffering I have ever seen- even then,
We will worship God.

And in this worship, I have found peace.

And if others smell the smoke, they will know: I have been going through a fire of sorts.

But what I hope they will see is my worship:

Daniel 3:24-25 (NKJV)
Nebuchadnezzar: "Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?
The men who had observed: "True, oh King"
Nebuchadnezzar: Look! I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."










Thank you for your continued prayers for Jastin, his family, our church here in Loja, Louis and Vivi, and Dustan and I.

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Comment (1)

The effects of the Fall are unfortunately very real, for all of us.

This isn't in protestant Bibles, but here is the prayer and praises of the three as they were in the furnace (it comes through from the Greek version). These passages are referenced in the seventh and eighth odes of every Orthodox canon (a kind of very long prayer for various things).

http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/r/rsv/rsv-idx?type=DIV1&byte=4193363

It refers to the sin and fall of the Jewish people and captivity in Babylon, but it can also be seen as the sin and fall of Man and the call for redemption in Christ. It is a beautiful prayer of repentance, a call for help, and of all creation praising God. It is very Psalm-like.

We are praying for you and Jastin.

Shawn