Hills and valleys

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Dear friends,

As Jesus teaches the crowd on the mountainside, as recorded in Matthew 5, he completely changes the idea of what it is to be blessed. Jesus introduces his upside-down kingdom in which the poor, the mourning, the humble and the merciful are blessed. 

I’ll be honest, I used to associate blessing with blue skies and the perfect cup of tea. I used to imagine God’s blessing would give me a little financial security, a little shield from the pain and heartbreak of this world. But yesterday, as I sat with tears streaming down my face, the words of Jesus seemed to hit me afresh. This week, possibly like no other in my life, has been a week of hills and valleys. It’s been a week of deep joy and a week of deep pain. Yet I can say with all my heart God has carried us through every minute. Through laughter and tears, through each mountaintop and valley we walk in his blessing.

At the start of our week we had the joy of celebrating with Shifaa and Halbast as they were discharged to go home to Kurdistan. These two families experienced not only physical healing but also a taste of God’s love for them. It was really special to walk this journey with the two beautiful mothers and to see how gladly they received Kurdish bibles as a parting gift. Please pray God continues the work he has begun in their lives.

ruth and shifaa

Visiting 19-year-old Khalid the day after his surgery, I was really surprised to see him already sitting up in an armchair. That same day he was extubated and transferred to an intermediate care room.

Iman (aka Roster) and Lawi were discharged to Jaffa yesterday, following Iman’s surgery and Lawi’s catheterisation. Both mums were very happy to come back and the Kurdish families gave them a lovely welcome.

lawi and iman

Two boys from Gaza are both still at Sheba hospital. Mahmoud and his grandma have had a difficult journey and when I think back to his condition a few weeks ago, I’m amazed at how far God has brought him. Co-worker Lisa reflected in her blog: “God wasn’t done with this beautiful boy. He told the sepsis to go, and little by little, Mahmoud regained strength and health.”

Yazen too, is bringing us great joy. After his surgical drains were removed last week, he is starting to walk around the hospital.

So much for the hills. This has been an especially difficult week for Mohammed M and his mother. He is currently in a special ICU room, following a long and complicated surgery on Monday. He is on ECMO heart support and his chest is open. Doctors say his condition is critical; he has mild bleeding on the brain, his heart is barely functioning and his organs are failing. Please bring this special child and his mother to our father in prayer.

mohammed on ecmo

And yesterday morning, I woke up to the deeply painful news that Mareta had passed away in the night. Co-worker Colin wrote in her blog “the grief associated with losing their only child, their beloved daughter that they had been caring for day and night, is immense.” As a community, we cried together with her parents and shared this grief together. They traveled home last night after burying their daughter in Jerusalem–please pray that the God who blesses those who mourn would comfort them as they grieve.

mareta burial

I can’t pretend I understand God’s ways, but as we walk through the hills and valleys as a community, I know he is with us every step of the way. As you join us in this journey, interceding for these special children, I’d like to finish by sharing the words of a song that particularly resonated with me this week:

On the mountains I will bow my life to the one who set me there
In the valley I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain I didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley I know I’m not alone
You’re the God of the hills and valleys

Ruth for Shevet Achim