As the sun set Wednesday evening, households all over Israel lit their candles and began the Seder meal, an ancient tradition in memory and celebration of God’s deliverance of his people from slavery in Egypt. At our home in Ashdod, we all crowded around two tables set end-to-end, so full we could barely fit enough chairs.
It wasn’t just the deliverance from Egypt that we celebrated. Our Father has been so faithful to rescue each one of us from the clutches of sin and despair. Coworker Willem, who has just returned from the Netherlands for another two months with us in Ashdod, shared after the meal of God’s redemptive work in his life. This prompted Kenan B’s mother—a sweet and dear friend of our community—to share her own story of how God brought her out of a place of hopelessness and blessed her greatly with a beautiful family. Truly, there is no situation too hopeless, no valley too dark, for the Father to deliver us to safety.
This is our hope and confidence this week for our precious children in the hospitals. At Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, six-week-old Majed is in a precarious position. The doctors tried multiple times to take him off the ventilator, but he was unable to breathe on his own. However prolonged intubation brings with it risk of dangerous complications. Late last week Majed’s heart stopped, due to pressure from air trapped between his lung and rib cage, and doctors had to resuscitate him.
We are trusting the Father also for little Eslam from Gaza, who had a difficult week in the ICU at Sheba Medical Center. Like Majed, Eslam deteriorated suddenly at the end of last week and had to be resuscitated. By Friday, his blood pressure and oxygen saturations were dropping to dangerous levels. When the doctors were unable to find an explanation for his deterioration, they put him on ECMO support in a last effort to stabilize him.
Just before the start of Passover, newborn Hadeel from Gaza was delivered safely into the care of the ICU team at Sheba. Hadeel was born with a severe form of Tetralogy of Fallot, a combination of heart defects that causes episodes of cyanosis.
Just as Hadeel was arriving in Israel, another tiny baby girl was on her way back home through the border crossing. One-month-old Eleen from Gaza was discharged from Hadassah hospital only one week after her lifesaving heart surgery!
And we’re so grateful for his faithfulness to chubby one-year-old Ayham, who was also discharged from Hadassah hospital this week and is safely back home in Gaza to spend the rest of Ramadan with his family.
Still at Hadassah is little Jude from Gaza, who has been losing weight and feverish for reasons doctors still don’t understand following his diagnostic catheterization:
Our beautiful Niyan from Kurdistan spent the days before Passover winning the hearts of everyone in the intermediate ICU at Sheba, as she had first a diagnostic catheterization and then dental treatment in preparation for her upcoming heart surgery.
Our Seder dinner brought to mind another such evening, history’s most famous Passover meal. In the last few precious hours with his disciples before betrayal and violence tore them apart, our Messiah taught us what it is to love. The meal began with him kneeling before each of his friends, even those who he knew were about to betray or deny him, and washing their feet. It ended with a beautiful prayer for his disciples and for those who will believe in him through their message—incredibly, he prayed for us: May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
And he had earlier given his friends one last command: Love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
At the Passover dinner, Jesus saw his friends’ flaws—their foolishness, their doubts and fears and betrayals—and loved them anyway. What’s more, he told them to love one another. He saw their pride, their bickering and irritations, their complete inability to love perfectly. Yet he told them to do it anyway, because he was about to make a way, to extend a grace that could overcome every failure.
Love one another as I have loved you. Love one another in all the messiness of weakness and imperfection. Let grace be greater than all the flaws and all the fears. Take heart, because he has made a way and overcome the world.
Thank you for joining us in prayer,
Bria for Shevet Achim