When bad things happen, we want answers from God. Sometimes we don’t even wait for answers, but instead become angry at Him for allowing such things to happen.
King David had a lot of experience with suffering. His prophetic Psalm 22 begins: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”
When children die here at Shevet, it’s always very hard. Sometimes it’s easier to see a small part of why God allowed it to happen – perhaps the child was delivered from great pain, or the family is drawn nearer to the Lord through their loss.
But sometimes there seems to be absolutely no reason, no possible way that this could ever be made right. And it’s not right. Death is evil. We cry out against death, and in confusion against an all-powerful God who would allow it in His world. As Martha cries in John 11: “Lord, if you had been here, [he] would not have died!”
The same question rings out in every hard situation on earth – Lord, where are you?
On Sunday, after being stable on ECMO heart-lung support for five days, the Yazidi refugee child Sineor went again into surgery. Doctors discovered that he also needed a pacemaker to stabilize his heartbeat, and that one of his valves was too small. In a five-hour surgery, they were able to open the valve, place a pacemaker, and take him off of the ECMO. Right after surgery, Sineor was doing well, and the doctors were hopeful.
The next day Jonathan received a call from the ICU saying that Sineor was struggling. Here in our Jerusalem base, coworker Luisa and I immediately started off for the hospital, and arrived about an hour later. We found that Sineor was in an even worse situation than we had feared. His heart was beating very weakly, and his blood pressure was extremely low. The doctors were giving him every medicine they could to support his heart function, and were waiting to see if he would respond.
Jonathan and coworker Doro came to support her, as did coworker Elise and the mother of Shan. We all gathered around her, along with the hospital staff, and some other mothers in the ICU, and waited.
Finally, the doctors told us that it would be less than an hour till he died. Doro, Shan’s mother, and I went into the room with Sineor’s mother, and we waited. Jonathan placed his hands on Sineor’s body, and prayed that God would heal him. We waited. His heart rate became slower and slower, and his blood pressure dropped lower and lower, and finally stopped. Our little boy went home.
Are they answered, Lord? This wasn’t the answer I was looking for.
We can look to Messiah’s answer back in John 11: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”
The only answer God gives is Himself. Jesus our Messiah, the resurrection and the life, died. He took on himself the shame of our sins. And Jesus rose again, conquering death. He is the resurrection and the life. Our only hope, in life and in death, is Jesus our Lord.
Sineor’s mother went home to her family in Kurdistan on Wednesday. We are still working on returning Sineor’s body for burial, and ask for your prayers with this difficult process.
Traveling along with Sineor’s mother was the father of Hazhin, still grieving the death of his beautiful daughter last Friday.
My dreams and goals in life were to have a peaceful and free life, but all my dreams and goals were destroyed, like water in a glass that falls on the ground and breaks and the water sinks into the ground…
I thought that God, if life is like this, death is better than this injustice and inequality…Life gave me another burden and I, being the father of two daughters, did not want my daughters [to suffer] too. I [don’t] want their lives to be ruined and their childhood dreams to be destroyed. I was trying my best to give them a peaceful and happy life by working for low wages, I wanted to fulfill all their needs and desires.
Until our little angel Hazhin entered our life. She was a divine blessing that made our life more beautiful. Unfortunately, in the first days after her birth, we found out that she has a heart disease and needs to be treated. I was in a bad economic situation, so I knocked on every door from friends and acquaintances. I asked for help from my family far and near, I reached out to help me to undergo surgery, but no one helped me and I was hopeless and I was afraid of losing my angel, but God placed you in our hearts to help me and my family. I thank you for the kindness you did to me and my family and I will always be grateful to you.
Always at Shevet there is the stark contrast and strange mixture of the tragic and the beautiful, the easy and the impossible, of life and of death. As we continue to mourn the deaths of Sineor and Hazhin, we also celebrate God’s healing in other children.
Little Mohammed R. with Down syndrome from Gaza is still fighting several viral infections, though at least now he has recovered from his coronavirus infection:
Mohammed B, our thirteen-year-old surprise admission from Gaza, is not enjoying his time in hospital. The doctors have started a couple of new medicines for him, and are hoping to implant a special mechanical valve which will help him. In the meantime, Mohammed is missing his mother and home. Coworker Jakob brought him pizza yesterday to cheer him up:
This Tuesday was an exciting day for sweet Somaia – her mother came back to the hospital! Somaia’s faithful and loving aunt said her goodbyes and returned to Gaza. We’ve all missed “Um Somaia” and her energetic determination to be a good mother not only to Somaia but also to everyone else who crosses her path, including nurses, doctors, and Shevet volunteers. Praise God that Somaia can have her mother with her again! Please pray that this will be good for both Somaia and her mom:
We had been having some difficulties scheduling a pre-dental-surgery anesthesiology appointment for three-year-old San. However, earlier this week, when another child had an anesthesiology appointment, coworker Doro asked if the doctor would also be able to see San. Thank God, he was, and San is now cleared to go into dental surgery next Sunday! Please pray that all goes well, and the San will be cleared for heart surgery after this procedure:
Fourteen-year-old Mohammed M.A. had yet another trip to the Hadassah emergency room on Saturday evening. He was having fever and vomiting yet again, and was admitted for observation. On Tuesday, he was ready to go home, this time with some stomach medication, and instructions to only come back if his fever was lasting longer than a day or so, or if he had heart pain or irregularities.
Sweet six-month-old Shan continues to do well in our Jerusalem house. She is the happiest, most content baby I have ever known!
Whether we are rejoicing with those who rejoice, or weeping with those who weep, or a little bit of both, our hope is stayed in who God is. He is the resurrection and the life. Even when we don’t have answers, He knows all things, and He is good.
Thank you for joining us in prayer,
Doro and Petra for Shevet Achim