Yesterday I was consulted by the general practitioners about a young child with a swollen abdomen. One of the residents and I went over to see the patient. My heart broke. This was the worst case of starvation I’ve ever seen. It was like something out of a magazine. She was reportedly seven years old but was the size of a three year old. I could wrap my forefinger and thumb around her thigh, her face was composed of sharp edges of bone instead of pudgy cheeks.

Her abdomen was swollen severely and the work-up was looking like abdominal tuberculosis. She has already been started on medication so I ordered a high-protein diet and decided to get Becca involved.

This morning, Becca and I went up to see her and Becca shared my shock. Though the little girl looked so terrible, her eyes were bright and she had long eyelashes, a beautiful little girl. She had worsened over night and was now developing respiratory difficulties. She was on oxygen and was using extra muscles, like her neck and shoulders, to breathe. One thing I’ve learned from my experience here is that respiratory failure is the beginning of the end. My heart had little hope for her outcome.

It would be painful to watch for anyone, but being a father has increased my sensitivity to this many times over. When I see these little children suffering so much, I can’t stop thinking about Nathan. When I look at their little hands or their faces, it reminds me so much of my son. I just wanted to scoop her up and hug her and kiss her and love her and feed her. She is so young and has been dealt such a lousy hand in life. She should be running and laughing, not struggling to breathe.

We made a few orders and talked with one of the kitchen personnel to make a few changes and walked home. As I walked, in light of my own emotions, I wondered how God must see this. If I, with all my junk and all the ugliness God is pulling me out of, felt so heart-broken for this little girl, how would an infinite, loving God feel? If I wanted to scoop this girl up and care for her, how much more so does He? There are some who would use this example as evidence that an infinite, loving God does not exist. I’ve got intellectual arguments against this, and I think they’re compelling arguments, but intellectuality just doesn’t fit here. I suspect that’s why God, when He reached out to a broken and wrecked world, didn’t send a textbook. He sent Jesus. And Jesus walked among us amidst the pain and suffering resulting from our own evil and rebellion and He suffered supremely on the cross. The truth doesn’t come across real well in print so I admit the inadequacy of this story. As I think about this girl, the intellect feels cold but I find great comfort in knowing my Savior suffered with us and promised to set things straight some day. I believe my God is good and that, though things so often look bad, He sees it from a different perspective than I’m capable. I plant my hope firmly on the promise that things will be right some day. May Jesus come now, I pray.

A few hours after Becca and I saw the little girl, Becca walked back up to see if she was drinking any of the nutritional supplements. She came back in tears. The girl had died and they were wrapping the body to be taken home. I realize there are theological arguments regarding death and resurrection and when and who will be with God, but my solace and hope right now is that God scooped her up and is now tenderly loving her. I pray fervently that I will someday see that girl again when things have been made right. I pray I’ll see her whole, the way it was intended, and that we’ll worship Jesus together for who He is and what He did for us.

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