Monday, January 25, 2016

Sunday, January 17, 2016

These painful, joyful days

Life often brings us joy juxtaposed with pain. Last week, Sarah Lantz, a surgeon that served at one of our hospitals in Zambia, died following a fight with cancer. Sarah was young, dynamic, very skilled and insightful. My favorite blog of hers described the challenges of being a missionary surgeon written last February.

Sarah went through her Candidate Training program the first fall we were here in Charlotte, and we got to know her a bit. When she was heading to Zambia and needed to clear out her apartment, we inherited some of her furniture.

When she returned to the US in August to find out what this lingering illness was that she was experiencing, it turned out that she had advanced breast cancer.  People around the world rallied to pray for Sarah's healing as part of Team Sarah. She started a rigorous chemo schedule, but over the months was unable to continue this.  It was just a few weeks ago when the Caring Bridge reports started to sound like Sarah wasn't going to be with us much longer.  In the months leading to her death she lived as fully as she could, and friends and colleagues from around the world stopped by to visit her at her parent's home. When we got the news last week that she had slipped into Jesus' arms it was so painful for the whole community.

And as I was responding to this, I saw that another friend's mother was declared officially in remission. Joy and pain.

Friday evening in a country across the Atlantic, terrorists attacked a hotel and killed a number of foreigners. Contacting our people in that country we learned that while our staff was not in the attack, among the dead was  a missionary who was a good friend to many of our people. Grief. Pain.

And the next day we heard that Pastor Saeed, whose release from prison in Iran has been prayed for earnestly by many over the years, was released as part of the prisoner exchange. Joy. Relief.

And with waves of these events coming through it is easy to feel like a pin ball, bouncing off the walls of the machine, with paddles propelling it to the next level.

The app I use for my prayer list closes each session with this:
Now may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
Whenever I get to that prayer, I try to soak it in. His peace helps me through these painful, joyful days.