As warm as tears

Dear friends,

Yesterday the few of us in the morning meeting discussed how our conception of God must be shaped by the Bible, rather than by presuppositions we impose on Scripture as to how we think God should act. This was such a good way to start the day, rehashing truth that should continually reorient our hearts to the true king. The more we learn about God, the more we love him.

A Scottish minister named Thomas Chalmers said in a sermon that the heart can’t part with desires for the world by sheer will power, or by demonstration of the worthlessness of a desire, but only by placing “…before the eye of the mind Him who made the world and with this peculiarity, which is all its own–that in the Gospel do we so behold God, as that we may love God.”

Beholding Him for who He is, not for who we expect Him to be, is to delight in Him. This is a good starting point for prayer, because it is the God revealed in Jesus who we pray to, not a god made in our own image.

On Sunday of this week we transferred newborn Mohammed from Hebron to the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem for an emergency heart surgery. But after carefully studying his physiology, doctors at Hadassah told the family on Monday the prognosis was very poor, and the parents took the difficult decision to take their son home without surgery:

Please join us in praying for God’s grace and love to be revealed to them through this suffering. We hope to visit the family in Hebron in the coming days.

That same day a baby named Omar was born in the Gaza Strip with a similar condition, although a somewhat better prognosis. Our Gaza coordinator Amar worked tirelessly to rush Omar to Hadassah by Wednesday night, where he is currently safe and stable and awaiting surgery at the start of next week:

Within the last three days three Gaza families have come to the Jaffa base to wait for further treatment due to Sheba Medical Center running at full capacity. One of the children is a baby named Mariam who had a previous surgery at a hospital in East Jerusalem. Her oxygen currently can fluctuate between 50% and 80%, so please be in prayer for her operation to come quickly:

She is with her mother, who lost another child shortly after heart surgery, so she is reliving a parent’s nightmare. Please pray for her as she awaits Mariam’s surgery and that we could be a good support to her.

Two new boys from Gaza, five-year-old Anas and 13-year-old Mohammed, came Thursday for electrophysiology appointments due to life-threatening cardiac rhythm abnormalities. They are staying with us in Jaffa for further tests next week. Please pray that this could be a blessed time in getting to know and care for them:

Mohammed Y from Gaza who had the huge surgery last week is recovering well in the ICU. His grandmother has been keeping in contact, sending pictures and video calling. She is so happy that his fingers are now pink:

Long-suffering Ziad had a surgical procedure Monday to help stop an infection, and doctors are leaving his chest open for a week. With this and antibiotics the infection hasn’t spread further, thank God:

Please keep praying for him and his mother, and also for favor with Erez border to permit his father to come and be his guardian while his mother goes back to Gaza to rest after over six months of staying in the hospital. She would often say that Ziad had a close relationship with his dad, so I pray that when he wakes up he’ll be able to see his father by his side.

Mimi from Iraq is waiting for another interventional catheterization in early November. She and her mother have been here for eight months, and I think it’s easy to say ‘what is another month,’ but truly Mimi and her mother have gone through a grueling process involving many surgeries and catheterizations. She’s watched her friends go back home and it has never been her turn. This perpetual putting off of a departure date is really difficult. She understands that this is the best for Mimi, and that it’s better to be on this side of things as opposed to having not been able to come before the coronavirus happened, but with all of this, please pray for Mimi and her mum.

I sometimes forget her mother is my age (23) because even with the waiting and the intense treatment Mimi has undergone, her mother has remained so kind, humble, loving, and welcoming to every family. We joke that she is basically one of the staff because she helps with translation for all the families–Kurdish before and Arabic now with all the families from Gaza. She has since expressed aspirations of returning to Kurdistan and becoming a nurse! May God use this experience for her future flourishing. We pray a homecoming for them is not far off.

Khalid and his father finally flew back to Kurdistan early this morning! They preferred to wait until a cheaper set of flights were available than the long route that the rest of the Kurdish families took in September. It has been nearly nine months for them in Israel.

At Khalid’s goodbye party, Colin recalled that on the day of his surgery he had to be taken back into the O.R. for bleeding, and I had to think back because March seems like such a long time ago. Since then he has grown and improved. I think Khalid and his dad are really special. They are both exceedingly kind and gentle; his father was always willing to help wherever it was needed, even going to the grocery store to assist the staff at the Jerusalem house. Khalid also is very talented with computers (he has a Youtube channel!), and there are some fun memories that we have; Colin and I spent a weekend in Jerusalem and we were cooking dinner on a Friday night when I accidentally burnt the bread we were toasting and set off the smoke alarm. Khalid, Colin, and I were the only ones there and for twenty minutes the alarm was blaring and we couldn’t get it to shut off. Finally Khalid figured it out just in time for everyone to return to a chaotic scene of chairs stacked on the table to reach the ceiling and the overwhelming smell of burnt bread.

As a part of the goodbye gift, we gave the family an Arabic bible, and I told Abu Khalid that he can’t put it away and never take it out again; he must actually continue to study and read it like he did here when he was a part of the morning meetings in Jerusalem. I pray that God’s  Spirit would bring the word to life in them.

Lastly, this week we found out that Deema from Gaza passed away. She stayed for a while at the Jerusalem base with her grandfather while Jonathan and Colin sought opinions from three different hospitals. During this time Colin, who is both a co-worker and a dear friend, was not only a nurse to Deema but also took on the role of a mother for this young girl. Deema was only ever calmed by the arms of her grandfather or the arms of Colin.

Please pray for the family of Deema, who would often contact Colin and ask her to pray for their daughter. Please also pray for Colin; she works with the utmost excellence and compassion. For my beautiful friend I ask that the Lord will lead her mind and heart through this experience, and would provide the resources to help her sort through the memories and emotions of the aftermath.

For Deema, her family, and Colin I thought of a poem written by C.S. Lewis entitled Love’s as Warm as Tears.

Love’s as warm as tears,
 Love is tears: 
Pressure within the brain,
 Tension at the throat,
 Deluge, weeks of rain, 
Haystacks afloat,
 Featureless seas between
Hedges, where once was green.

 Love’s as fierce as fire,
 Love is fire: 
All sorts–Infernal heat
 Clinkered with greed and pride, 
Lyric desire, sharp-sweet, 
Laughing, even when denied, 
And that empyreal flame 
Whence all loves came.

 Love’s as fresh as spring, 
Love is spring: 
Bird-song in the air, 
Cool smells in a wood, 
Whispering “Dare! Dare!” 
To sap, to blood, 
Telling “Ease, safety, rest,
 Are good; not best.” 

Love’s as hard as nails,
 Love is nails: 
Blunt, thick, hammered through
 The medial nerves of One
 Who, having made us, knew 
The thing He had done, 
Seeing (with all that is) 
Our cross, and His. 

 Alena for Shevet Achim