Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haiti- to go...or not to go? That is the question.

It is still so interesting to me that you can go from a pretty mediocre week, to one that wants to put you in a tail spin. I started Monday off with finding out that my very first oncology patient that I have worked with for an extended period of time, treating and evaluating her over the last 7 months, had died last weekend. I was on vacation from the clinic for a couple of weeks, so the last time I saw this dear woman, she was feeling good, doing well and "knew that God has healed me". That was before Christmas. Now she is gone. I deal with death and physical suffering on a daily basis, but this cancer fighter had a face. And more than that, the only thing I could see when I heard she was gone was her little 5 year old son's face, and her young husband's smile. Broken hearts abounded last week as I thought of her sweet family trying to press on.
Then the horrific disaster in Haiti. A country that very likely has loose, if any, building codes, and even fewer EMS and humanitarian services is struck with the awesome power of our Creator. It is a surreal feeling to see that kind of devastation, that kind of suffering, and be nice and cozy in my fancy suburban hospital, with middle aged women whining that "the tape is making me itch" on their dressings, or "the taco salad they served for dinner didn't have very much flavor". I felt guilty all week for being spoiled rotten. You send money, you pray, and you cry- but it still feels like a world away.

Then the call comes Saturday- "Can you come help?" A nursing group I joined sends RN's to the front lines of natural and traumatic disasters to triage, bandage and provide relief to the medical personnel in places just like Haiti. And they want to know if I can come and help. My heart immediately says "Of course", and then the questions and concerns come. Timing couldn't be worse, with Steve working minimal hours, taking two weeks off work with no pay won't be easy. Teenage issues are abounding at our house, can I leave my children and let them figure things out for awhile, my two greatest disciples God has given me? Marriage is tough and ours has had a shake up with the last month of craziness, is it o.k. to put the relationship on pause while I go play "nurse"? And the health issues. This isn't like going to Katrina in all of the filth and contamination that happened, this is a filthy and dirty country, with poverty, disease and sickness FDA or CDC keeping things in check the rest of the year.

The question I heard discussed most by people around me was the "why". "So sad, and so senseless" this massive destruction and pain. Some would say "hey, it's a good thing- now developed countries will come in, rebuild, and Haiti will be better off". Some would say "sad but oh well, Haiti doesn't matter that much". Jesus had words for the people of Jerusalem who wondered "why, whose fault is it, did they get what they deserved" when a similar (albeit smaller) tragedy happened- a tower at the pool of Siloam fell and killed 18 people senselessly- and Jesus dared to say "Take heed". Check it out:

"Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." Luke 13:4-5

Do I dare say that we all should take heed? As we cruise around in our daily life, and push God to the way side, how long will He be patient with our neglect? Please don't misunderstand and think I am pointing a finger at Haiti or anyone who deals with what seems like meaningless loss and suffering. I am simply asking- have we prepared our hearts for the Creator of the Universe to test them, and when we see His hand, do we repent and say- "Oh, God...I am dust"?

John McArthur wrote in a commentary on Luke 13: "The question in (the peoples) minds was regarding the connection between calamity and iniquity ("more guilty"). Jesus responded by saying that such calamity was not God's way to single out an especially evil group for death, but as a means of warning to ALL sinners. Calamitous judgment was eventually coming to all if they did not repent."

Should we all take a moment to reflect on the condition of our hearts and offering ourselves up to the cleansing and refining work of God in our lives? We could get in a car accident today, struck with cancer tomorrow, or lose a baby...just like that. Can we still trust that He is sovereign, just and mighty- in the face of calamity?
Whoa- just call me Debbie Downer. But right after this Jesus- boosted my spirit. In context, right after Jesus said the above words, He told a story about a fig tree that wasn't giving any fruit, and hadn't for years. Someone said the fig tree owner should just chop that stupid tree down, but the Tree Owner said, "Let it alone, sir, for one more year, and I will dig around it and put in fertilizer, and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down." (Luke 13:8-9) Yet another example of the extreme patience and grace of our loving Father. He gives us warning after warning that He is REAL...then He patiently waits for us to wise up.

Oh, Lord- fertilize and tend the soil of my heart. Help us all to repent from our evil ways and bear beautiful fruit for You- pretty to look at, healthy for the communities we live in, and GOOD for the people of this world.

Tomorrow, I will start the paperwork to get to Haiti. And we will see what God will do. God be with you, friends.


Nick said...

I pray that God will reveal his good will for you and reward your faith for following it.

KEI said...

Wow Renee! I can't imagine what emotions you are feeling but I pray that the Lord of Lords will guide your path right now and that His will be done. God bless you, whatever you do! Know that I am praying for you, sister, and for the people of Haiti!

roberson said...

Renee!! God has given you the gifting! I will pray for you as you decide! Can I come!!

roberson said...

Oh, Renee, I will pray with you about this. God has given you the gifting - you are such a great nurse!!

Cameo said...


My name is Cameo and the cancer patient you talked about losing was my sister Trina. It has been almost 4 years since she died on January 9, 2010. I have a very dear friend who is in the process of losing her sweet 7 year old daughter and that caused me to go back and read my blog entries (and comments) in the 9 days leading up to Trina's death and then the first month afterwards. It was then that I saw your comment. It stood out to me because I don't remember reading your blog or reaching out to you. I found your blog and I just want you to know what you wrote on my blog after Trina died has finally had an impact on me. I've been shoving things aside, stomping on top of my feelings, pushing them deep, deep down and now with my friend getting ready to start her new life without her daughter has brought everything to the forefront. Anyway, I'm sorry to go on and on as I'm sure you have completely forgotten about her and I'm just some crazy person who has reached out to you, haha. But you took the time to not just reach out to me on my blog in my darkest time but to write about my dear sweet sister and her even more dear sweet son on your blog.

Speaking of which, Asa just turned 9 years old last month. Trina would be SOOOOO proud of her "little man" as she always used to call him.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate what you did more than you can ever know. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Doanz said...

Hey lady. Thank you for your comment on my blog. Didn't know how to reach you to say...YOU are a beautiful soul. Of course I remember you all, and still think of Trina and all those sweet faces often. I have said prayers for your little Asa over the years and can't believe how big he is! I have prayed for Joshua's heart and happiness, and I smile and thank God for family when I remember yours and your mother's faces. Working with the type of people I do, your family is a shining light in the darkness. Thanks for letting me know Trina's family is doing just fine. It made my whole month. <3

I am sorry you and your friend are facing death again...and in one so young and innocent. I can only imagine. Will be praying for all of you...your blog shows your humor and view point, and it is probably just what your dear friend will need in the days to come. I am so glad she has you.