Thursday, June 21, 2012

Kalinde's Hope

(photo by Paul Gunther)

Kalinde.  She’s 25 years old, with 3 children, and beautiful.  It would seem she has her whole life ahead of her.  A full life.  But the truth is, she’s dying.

Probably soon. 

About 6 months ago she got sick.  But when she tried to see the doctor, she was denied because she didn’t have the money to pay.  Shortly after, she became paralyzed in both legs.  Then her husband left her and the children.  I know what you are thinking, because I thought the same thing.  But that’s not even the worst part.  Without the use of her legs, she has been unable to get herself around.  Until a few days ago, she has apparently been sitting in the same spot on the back porch of her home.  On a straw mat on a cement floor.

Six months.

All the time.  Not much of a full life.

But that’s not even the whole story.

I am not a doctor and my medical training consists of CPR and First Aid.  So my ability to share the rest of her story in any way other than plain and simple is impossible.  She has developed sores on the bottom half of her body.  Everywhere.

I see the sores on the lower parts of her legs and think, those could be treated.  But imagine bed sores that do not get treated.  At all.  For months and months.  And imagine sitting on those sores as they continue to get worse, and open up, and get infected.  And while you sit with open sores, unable to even use a bathroom when needed other than the sheet you sit on, the flies begin to feast on you. 

Picture a decomposing animal.  Now attach that picture to the bottom half of a beautiful young woman’s face and torso. 

It’s hard to do isn’t it.  I’ve seen it first hand, and I still have a hard time putting it together. 
This is far from a full life.  It’s not supposed to be like this.

This was the topic of a sermon that Paul gave one Sunday when teaching from Genesis.  When God breathed life into human beings in the very beginning, suffering was not part of it.  That came later.  It wasn’t supposed to be like that.  And at the end, someday, God promises eternal life free of suffering.  But somewhere in the middle of all that, Jesus said He came to give life, full life.  Right now.  While suffering is still very real and powerful.  So where is the full life for Kalinde? 

As her flesh is being eaten away and her bones are exposed and her bowel protrudes from her lower back, what hope is there for full life?  If she had gotten treatment sooner, this would not be happening.  My daughter blames the doctors.  They should have helped her when she asked.  I blame her family for letting it get this far and not getting her help.  There is no treatment now.  Her internal organs are exposed and affected.  At some point, soon, she will die.  It’s not supposed to be this way.

A few of our team helped again today to clean out her sores as best as they could.  She cried out in pain and I screamed in my head, “God make it stop!”  Jesus touched people and they were healed.  I’m touching this woman and she cries out in pain.  Where is full life? 

When they wrapped and cleaned her the best they could, we placedABC her back in her sitting position.  We have brought a mattress to make the sitting on open sores more comfortable.  If that’s possible.  We cover her with a sheet and she has caught her breath again.  When the sores are covered up, it’s almost like she has returned to a healthy beautiful woman again.  But the sores are still there.  The infection still exists.  She’s still going to die. 

The ironic thing is that after the intense pain of being moved and cleaned, she asked us when we would be coming back to do it again.  What makes someone, experiencing that amount of pain and suffering, ask for more?  Something in what we did for her today made her ask for another visit. 

My hero growing up was Mother Teresa and Rick Monday.  Unless you love baseball, most people wouldn’t know who Rick Monday is, and that’s ok.  It’s another story for another day.  But Mother Teresa inspired me, even “awed” me if that’s a word.  She saw suffering and chose to respond.  As a result of her efforts, I know many services and resources have been established for those all over the world who suffer greatly in this life.  But before any of that happened, she was responding as only she knew how.  She touched people.  Literally.  Most of them were people that others would never choose to touch.  Her touch rarely brought physical healing, and yet suffering people longed for her touch. 

Our touching of Kalinde today brought more pain and yet she longs for more.  It surprised me, causing me to wonder why she would want more.  Something about what was done for her today out-did the pain that was caused in doing it.  Could a physical touch mean enough to her heart and soul that it would be worth more physical pain to receive it again? 

What if Jesus touched people to reach their hearts. 

What if physical healing was just incidental because He was God. 

Don’t get me wrong- I know God longs and intends to redeem body and spirit both.  Healing is His specialty.  But if I follow His example given in the gospels, He touched first.  So I will touch first.  Maybe there is more to full life than my limited understanding of life without suffering.  Maybe it is possible to receive full life in the middle of suffering.  Maybe full life is more than just long life.

I still believe it’s not supposed to be this way for Kalinde.  I’m still angry that she will die from something that could have been treated.  I’ll still cry when I watch her cry out in pain.  But if touching pain is what Jesus did, then I pray God will continue to give me the strength to reach out, so that He can bring full life in whatever way He knows is best to those who need it most.

Written by Melinda Gunther from The Grove Church in Arizona

Kalinde passed away June 20, 2012 
(one day after I got home)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...