I alluded to this story in my initial post about my Honduran experience titled Healing in Honduras. My most treasured experience from Honduras was during the visit to Catarina, a local hospital. Our team of fifteen split into three groups to visit different areas within the building. I was placed on the team heading to the maternity ward. Allow me paint the scene for you:
It’s a balmy 95 degrees and there isn’t any air conditioning. The hallways buzz with shuffling nurses, doctors, patients, and visitors. If the patients want cool air, they must bring a fan, otherwise they just sit and sweat. I’ve never been pregnant, but I imagine that heat exacerbates the discomfort of being nine months expectant. Each hospital room had four beds, but there weren’t any kind of dividers between the beds.
The plan was for the four of us teammates to take turns praying for the women as Jake translated for us. We had gotten into a rhythm of asking about the woman and her pregnancy, how her baby was doing, and what we could pray about for them. We had been through two rooms when we got to the room with the blind woman.
She was groaning in agony; she immediately caught my attention. She was not like the other women in the room. She was trembling. She was thin. She was frail. She stared at the ceiling but saw nothing. I whispered to my teammate that I thought she might be blind. I’m apologetic to admit that I wasn’t echoing the prayer of my teammate as they prayed for the first woman we visited in that room, but I was completely captivated by the blind woman. My heart and mind was churning. Something in my soul was pulling me toward her. When it was time to pray for her, it was not my turn in the rotation to pray, but our leader, Maggie, asked if I would. Thank you, God! She was a sweaty, sticky mess despite her feeling cool to the touch. She was saying a phrase over and over, and Jake translated to me that she was asking to see her baby.
“That’s odd,” I thought, “she literally cannot see her baby. She’s blind.” But I knew what she meant. It turns out that her baby had been born three weeks prior to our visit. The grandmother to the baby and mother of this sickly new mom sat at the foot of the bed. We asked her to elaborate on the situation. She informed us that her daughter delivered a healthy baby, but the process made her incredibly sick. Complications led to infections, and the doctors had no hope for her recovery. This woman was waiting for her daughter, this new mom, to die.
I found my fingers running through her matted hair; my hands ran down the length of her arms and back again. All I wanted was to take her pain away. I began to pray for her, but her wails for her baby continued. Our time with this patient ended and my team moved to the next bed, but my feet were planted in place. I was bound to her for the time being. My team was ready to move on to the next room, but Maggie recognized I needed to stay, so they moved on without me.
I got so lost in comforting this poor young woman that it felt like we were the only two people in the room. My eyes searched her body: open sores on her lips, bruises from IVs, arms and legs that had dwindled to mere flesh and bone. I could not bare her failing physical appearance any longer, so I closed my eyes and prayed. When I ran out of things to pray, I began to sing:
You are good / You are good / When there’s nothing good in me
You are love / You are love / On display for all to see
You are light / You are light / When the darkness closes in
You are hope / You are hope / You have covered all my sin
You are peace / You are peace / When my fear is crippling
You are true / You are true / Even in my wandering
You are joy / You are joy / You’re the reason that I sing
You are life / You are life/ In You death has lost its sting
I’m running to Your arms / I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love / Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace / Light of the world forever reign
I barely got through line “on display for all to see” before I choked back tears. Despite my valiant effort, I wept over this poor woman as I continued to brokenly sing this song. I sang it a few times through before I realized I had actually drenched this girl in my tears. It was freeing to be so wrapped in worship, but I did know how long I had been there, so thought it would be best to rejoin my team. I turned away from this dear young woman, but met her mother at the end of the bed. She stood up to hug me. We could not verbally communicate, but we wrapped up each other in a tender embrace. We held one another, and we both began to cry. We held onto that moment for a few minutes. I felt the release of her tension as she let out a sigh. I do not think I have ever experienced such a pure moment in all my life. It felt like she somehow endowed me with her mother’s heart. I felt her pain. I felt her heaviness of losing her daughter. I felt her receive peace. She pushed me away far enough to look into my eyes, and she told me she loved me. That was when I was healed of my blindness.
I am the woman that was healed from her blindness. I did not previously truly see how Jesus is peace when we have crippling fear. I had not seen how Jesus was the light when there is nothing but darkness shrouding a situation. I had not seen before how the sting of death could be lessened, but I saw it in that mother by her carrying Jesus’s peace deep within her soul despite her daughter’s pending death. Jesus is life. I see that clearly now.
Ingram, Jason and Reuben Morgan. (2009). Forever Reign [Recorded by Hillsong Music Publishing]. On A Beautiful Exchange. USA: Shout! Publishing.