There was a man crying in my office and it made me feel very uncomfortable. He was not even on my list of patients to see and I really did not want to be bothered with him. Nevertheless, he sneaked in quietly after I had thought I had seen my last patient. Here he was, crying in my office. I should be used to it by now. After all, I have actually caused many people to cry. I have been charged with the ministry of telling a lot of people a lot of bad news. It has become so common for me to do this, that I can almost do it in my sleep. Come to think of it, I have done it in my sleep. I awaken in the middle of the night to the remembrance of the several people to whom I have given heart wrenching reports.
I am sorry Mrs. Owino, your child will lose not just have to lose his arm, but the infection has already spread to his shoulder and at this rate, he won’t see his 7th birthday. Oh yes I know Mr. Mueni, the cancer probably could have been cured when you saw the doctor 3 years ago, but now it is to late to even try to remove it without killing you. Yes Mr. and Mrs. Oloshua, the tumor is a part of AIDS and the odds of curing it are low as you don’t have enough nourishment in your body to help you survive the treatment nor enough money to purchase the drugs. Besides, we don’t even stock those medicines here.
See you later. I am off to lunch. And with that, I close my door and wolf down a sandwich, or some chicken and French fries and a cold coke. It must be cold coke. What else to soothe this torch like tongue?
Telling bad news makes it hard to relate the Good News quite honestly. In one breath I tell someone there is little to nothing I can do to prevent, reverse or even treat the illness. A few seconds later I am supposed to tell them that Jesus loves them and knows all about their illness. It is hard for me to make sense of it and sometimes I laugh at myself for even trying. It is easier to laugh than cry. Compassion hurts. Better to let go of that feeling of compassion it seems.
Heartless compassion is what I call it. Removing the heart of flesh and replacing it with a heart of stone is what I refer to as my defense mechanism. After a while, it gets very difficult to carry the burdens of 1,000 hungry children in 4 orphanages, 10,000 desperately poor and thirsty people in four villages, perform 30 to 40 major surgical procedures per week see 100 people weekly on rounds and in clinic and pay for their care as well as really CARE how they feel or what they feel! So, I made this man cry. This time was different though.
This man crying was not crying tears of pain, but tears of joy. His wife recovered from major surgery I had performed and he was actually in my office to thank me for the good work. It is rare to have people actually cry tears of joy in my office. He held my hands and his tears were genuine. I took comfort in his tears. He prayed God’s strength on my work and my family and then just as quietly as he entered, he left. He was now smiling. It was I who was left crying in my office. Why not? After all: Jesus wept. John 11:35