Gabi’s high-risk surgery

Yesterday Gabi was resuscitated three times, and the medical staff decided to press ahead with a high-risk surgery today to clean Gabi’s lungs and put in a BT shunt. Georgia, Frankie, and I were able to really invest in being with Gabi’s dad. Gabi was taken into surgery at 9:30 am and didn’t leave the operating room until 9:30 pm. For the first hour we were sitting together and praying. His head was in hands while he clutched a rosary.

Then for the next few hours he got some much needed sleep. Sometimes events are very fast paced here, but if I found today that if I let myself stop and contemplate Gabi, his dad, his mum, how much his parents love him, and  the projected prognosis, there was an earth shattering depth to these circumstances. It was painful and felt like you were being stretched. Maybe a few months ago I would be reluctant to invest the emotional and spiritual energy into feeling with the family, but now I understand that that is what God has given us to do during this time. Go and sit with those in the darkest hour. Don’t try to explain away the pain or give your reasoning for its occurrence. Stay with them, feel with them, and give all of these burdens to God.

I was reminded of a quote from C.S. Lewis’ “The Four Loves,” which says, “There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

Love was not ‘safe’ for Jesus, it cost him any self preservation he had, never mind the relationship with His Father He was entitled to. But through his sacrifice we are reconciled to God, and this is why we can pray boldly for Gabi. Via WhatsApp people from all over the world are praying for Gabi. Our previous head nurse, Diana, who is very dear to Gabi’s family, had her whole church praying within a few hours of learning that he was in surgery.

At about 4:30, one of the doctors who was in communication with the operating room told us that it would be at least another two hours, but his surgery was finishing up, and they have done what they set out to accomplish. We were soon joined by our Israeli neighbor Moshe, who provided meaningful companionship for Gabi’s father. They embraced each other when Moshe stepped out of the elevator. Moshe and he talked about the army and different shooting positions, Gabi’s dad opened the bible and explained some of what he had been reading lately.

There were actually many laughs amidst the tenseness of waiting: for example a few Jewish volunteers brought a dish called kugel, and, upon hearing the name of the food, Gabi’s dad replied, ‘Google?’

There were also moments of frustration as the doctors came out to explain the surgery to the father, once Gabi was out of the operating room and being stabilized in his ICU room. He and Moshe stood in the waiting room for the explanation, but Gabi’s dad still had questions concerning his son’s sudden deterioration.

In these thirteen hours we were with Gabi’s dad, there was an undercurrent of sorrow, fear, and a prevalent hope. One of the nurses told me, “We must have hope.” They estimate a fifty-fifty chance he’ll live. He is still on artificial heart support, and we couldn’t go in to see him because they want to leave his chest open, but when we left he was doing better than when he initially came out of surgery. Please keep praying for Gabi and for his family, that they would know and hope in the cross of Jesus, which is the full measure of his love and understanding of their pain.

Even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is bright as the day,

for darkness is as light with you. (Psalm 139:12)