Wednesday, April 1, 2020

A Few Musings on Uncertainty and other Updates

The Descent from the Cross (Rembrandt, 1634) - WikipediaK

Descent from the Cross, Rembrandt, 1634

Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

I like certainty. Who doesn’t? Certainty is kind of like a safety net, or a warm blanket. When you're in an intellectual or emotional free-fall, you can always land on those things about which you're certain, and they will keep you safe. 

So what do you do when life takes away your certainty?  When your best efforts fail, and your patient loses their limb or their life? When in the course of a few months, a local viral outbreak has escalated to a global pandemic - and thousands upon thousands across the world are dying? When you hear spiritual leaders claim, in the midst of such suffering, that this virus is God’s judgement upon sinners?

I know what I do. I start asking questions. Is God really in control? If so, is He really loving?
Does God even exist?

To be honest, in the midst of significant individual, communal, and global suffering, my reason and intellectual certainty fail me. I can’t rationally explain to you how a loving, powerful God exists when there is so much pain and suffering in the world. People have been asking that question at least since the book of Job was written. People are asking it now. Try as I might to reason my way through it, I have yet to find a satisfactory answer.

Thankfully, we have more than just our reason to rely upon. We have scripture, a rich Christian tradition, and our own experience to help us navigate these times. Yep, I said it- experience. Even in the Bible's penultimate story of suffering, the book of Job doesn’t offer an explanation as to why Job's suffering occurs. What happens in the end is that Job has an experience of God, and his need for an explanation disappears.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Not “think and see” and not “read and see.” "Taste and see."

In prayer, in meditation, and especially in the eyes of my patients who are suffering, I continue to encounter a God who is both good and powerful - and who transcends my reason and my doubts. As we face COVID-19 together, I encourage you to find God in such experiences, and take refuge in the kind of knowing that you find there.

Other Updates
- Our family is currently well. As of the time of this writing, there are about 50 confirmed cases of COVID 19 in Kenya. We are just beginning to see community spread. We pray that the rate of spread in Kenya remains slow, but as a hospital we are actively preparing for what may happen if/when we hit the steep portion of the curve.

- I continue to practice orthopedic surgery at the hospital. We have cancelled all elective cases, but we continue to treat trauma patients in urgent need of orthopedic care.

- Barnabas, the patient discussed in my previous post, recently walked into my clinic. He is doing well, his pelvis is healing, and he is thankful to God for the care he received.

- Another cause for uncertainty these days is the uncertain future of the orthopedic residency program here at Tenwek due to limited resources, especially in terms of long term staff. Please pray that God will provide.

- We as a family will continue to hold all of you in our prayers during this difficult time.

**Necessary disclaimer: the views expressed on this blog are my own, and do not represent those of Samaritan's Purse or of Tenwek Hospital**

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing. Praying for you all! It was so fun to see your picture and your video on the Autumn Ridge live stream today. :-)

    Blessings, Lauren Tarbell


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