Sunday, June 24, 2007

blessed are those who mourn...

two weeks ago, sunday night, we got one of those phone calls… the ones that unconsciously make your stomach clench a little, that make you kind of wish that you could turn around and walk out the back door, the ones that lead you instead to the clinic to start to gather anything you can think of for treating the unknown. there was a lady in labor in town; they had driven in from a village about 45 minutes away and were looking for anyone who would take them to the hospital in joyaba, so they called us to ask if we could take them in. the lady had been in labor since 1:00 that afternoon and the midwife said she was breech. we told her to just come to the clinic and we would ultrasound her and check everything out before helping her get to the hospital.

they carried her in laying on a blanket and placed her on the exam table next to our ultrasound machine. hannah started getting the ultrasound ready while leslie started talking to the midwife. as leslie and i lifted the blanket to examine the mom a little further, we saw one tiny foot hanging out, motionless. i went into the house to get the cell phone to call heidi while hannah continued with the ultrasound and leslie continued to get information from the midwife, but by the time i got back to the clinic, hannah had discovered that the baby was already dead.

with part of me wishing that our responsibility ended there, we knew that we now had to get this baby out of the mom before further complications occurred, and so began the process of leading the mom through the delivery of her sixth dead baby. with heidi coaching us by phone through every single step, we “worked” (although assisted seems like a more appropriate word) for about one and a half hours to deliver this precious little baby. the mom never made a sound throughout the entire process, but courageously and humbly gave birth to the baby that she had carried inside of her for nine months. afterwards she and her husband thanked us, and with tears in his eyes, they carried their baby to the truck and headed home; their baby that died from something that never should cause death.

shelley hundley says that pain is the avenue for encountering god himself, although she firmly clarifies that there is no great value in suffering in itself, but that the suffering heart that looks toward god gets it. nothing in me finds it natural to want to walk into someone’s pain and just simply sit with them in the midst of it, but as i think about what shelley said, and as i look at scripture, i cannot deny the fact that god usually chooses to reveal himself through pain… that he commands us to put ourselves in places where pain and poverty are found…

“…blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted… blessed are the meek… those who hunger and thirst… those who are persecuted…” matthew 5

and shelley goes further to say that this pain is a place not only where god meets us to comfort us, but a place where god longs to find people who will share in this mourning with him. not only a place where we cry out the injustices that we see to our god or where we find comfort, but a place where we can cry with our maker, where we can exchange tears with a god who also mourns over the injustice, where we both take each others’ hands and work alongside each other… as friends. at one point while heidi was helping us through each step, she said to hannah, “i am right there with you guys…” and i think this is kind of what god does… he says, “my hands are right there with you helping you ease some of this pain... but my heart is right there too, mourning over the injustice, angry at the attacks of satan, breaking as we look into the eyes of my child who has just lost another one of her children.”

i could never explain those long moments over the course of the two hours that it took from the time the lady came in the door to the time she left, but they have left me with an even deeper respect and love for these people. i cannot imagine the pain this woman felt as she gave birth to a baby that she already knew was dead. and even more so, i cannot imagine all the pain that life must have brought her for her to be able to deliver her sixth dead baby without a tear or cry… to have the kind of strength that this woman possessed… to go through all of that and then at the end to turn and thank us... to thank us for allowing her to deliver her baby on an old exam table in our clinic instead of the dirt floor in her home. it left us with little choice but to then turn to god and thank him that he chooses to join himself to us in the midst of pain… that it is a place where we can sit together and cry for a little while over the pain that this life often brings our way.

p.s. i am sorry (matt and heidi are you listening? haha) that these posts are few and far between... our internet has been not working, so i am just getting to post it...