With the turn of the new year, and near completion of our first year in the field, it is virtually impossible not to look back on our tenure here thus far. Peering in the rear view, it’s easy to see many people and situations that have been responsible for shaping our experience. Some good, some bad, some outrageous, but all of them lasting.
We are currently still in the throws of one of those experiences - the strike. The strike is now in it’s seventh week. I have never been a part of a strike. My only other related strike experience is with the nuclear plant where my dad worked when I was a kid. My brother and I thought it was cool because he was home all day until its conclusion. This time, it’s not so enjoyable. Myself and others like me in surrounding mission hospitals, are logging countless hours to try to ensure that every patient is seen and well cared for. I have had only one day off since the walk out, and I believe I speak for all of us when I say we are exhausted.
Our hospital is literally bursting at the seams. There is no more space to put a bed in our medical ward; so, if more patients are admitted, they will have to share beds with their nearest, non-infectious neighbor. HIPPA is non-existent in this context.
Recently, while shuffling through our metal wired beds to do rounds, I came upon one of our patients standing in the threshold of a doorway. He appeared to be studying the ward, but not giving much attention to me standing before him. As I tried to slide past him and continue seeing patients, he raised his right arm and in it he clinched six feet of rubber coated wire. Before I knew it, this octogenarian was beating me like I stole something. It was the only time in my career that I was thankful to be wearing a white coat, as it provided an extra layer of protection from his arthritic, yet effective blows. Needless to say, the five patients in the isolation room remained as such; isolated. Our demented doorman was not allowing anyone entry.
Maybe he thought I was responsible for cooking the food he was served? Maybe he thought I was responsible for the strike? Maybe his smoldering dementia turned to delirium from being in the hospital, which is completely understandable. Either way, just when I thought I couldn’t be mentally or emotionally beaten any worse from the many consecutive days of work, I got a quick and welt-producing reminder that it can always get worse.
Reflecting on the call of our lives, we are reminded that in being called, we are not promised to be liked, successful or fruitful in ministry. We are not promised safety and security; not even from an eighty-plus year old dementia patient with a solid right arm. We are, however, promised that the Father will be with us and not forsake us. That makes the sting of life’s unfairness, or that of rubber coated wire, a little more bearable.