Humbled by Faith

February 7, 2013 • Honduras

Dr. Judy Blumhofer, who is serving for two years at Hospital Loma de Luz in Honduras through the Post-Residency Program, sees God’s healing hand touch a young patient

I missed it, plain and simple. Two weeks ago, baby Linda had come in with what I thought was the beginning of a cold. She showed no concerning signs, and I sent her home with every expectation that she would get better in the next few days, except she didn’t.

Linda came in two weeks later much sicker and was quickly admitted. She clearly had pneumonia at this point, but the more I listened, the more concerned I became for pertussis (whooping cough) as well. Never a good diagnosis, it’s even worse in an unimmunized 2-month-old.

So the worry and the guilt began. “Maybe, just maybe,” I thought, “if I’d caught this two weeks ago, she wouldn’t be this sick now.”

No matter how much I knew that there was no way to catch this earlier, that didn’t change the reality of feeling that somehow I should have.

More than once, I started to talk with her family about transferring her to the public hospital, one and a half hours away. Pure and simple, she was quickly getting beyond what I knew. The machines, the medications, the procedures and the monitoring she would need if she got any sicker were all things I had no knowledge of, not to mention things I had no access to.

However, the family chose to stay here; even if she got worse, they wanted her cared for by us. We rechecked labs the next day, and while some showed improvement, others were quickly rising to dangerous levels. The familiar knot in my gut grew even tighter—that paralysis of knowing where the trajectory was leading, but being absolutely powerless to stop it.

So that night, we all stood around her bed and joined hands and we prayed. To be exact, I pleaded, begged even. And everyone else in the circle—well, I’m not sure what they did. All I know is that it was one mighty chorus being raised up to heaven. From us in the hospital, from churches in Honduras, from many in the States, and some in other places around the world, supplications and praise and trust and doubt and fear and desperation all ascended to a heavenly throne.

The next morning, her labs showed drastic improvement. I nearly cried in relief. Her breathing was easier. She was more alert, less irritable. The knot in my stomach unclenched just a tad.

That night, I sat in her room with her parents. Her father’s eyes met mine and he said, “She’s getting better.” It wasn’t a question he was looking for me to answer, but rather a statement of fact. I looked right back and softly said, “Thank God. I didn’t know what else to do, but our prayers are being answered.” And in his response, I came face to face with faith.

“Our church is praying,” he told me. “All the churches in this area are praying. My pastor was up all night praying for her. But we are also praying for you. We’re praying that God would use your hands to heal her, and that He will give you the knowledge you need and the medicines you need to do that. God is using you, and that is why we chose to stay at this hospital instead of going to a different one as she got worse.”

I nearly cried again, still from relief, but also in humility and thankfulness and awe. While I was grappling with guilt and doubt and fear, this family and these churches had been exercising a faith and seeking a solution that was greater reaching and far more lasting than mine. They chose to stay here and trust, not me, but God. I looked at her case and saw the end of my abilities; they looked at her illness and saw a God for whom nothing is impossible.

As I write this, Linda’s still here, puzzling me in some respects, but surely improving. And I am here, looking at this child, and realizing how fortunate I am, both to have the privilege of caring for her, and also to be cared for and prayed for by her family and her church. Humbled only scratches the surface.

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