Tuesday, 20 November 2007
What do we do when things do not get better?
This is a central question for our friends with HIV. So many of our HIV positive friends come to us when they are already quite ill - when years of erosion of their immune system leaves them vulnerable to constant infection - and a seemingly ever-increasing set of illnesses.
We pray, of course.
We pray for healing and strength. But what happens when we don't see it. Or don't see it soon?
How to know when to take on the child-like, God-trusting 'you are going to get better' prayer - and when to pray the 'your will be done' prayer?
Mr. Babulnath has just not been getting better. Admission at JSK. TB medicines. Anti-retroviral drugs. He is TB sputum positive (meaning the previous course of TB drugs he took have not contained the TB and it is likely to be drug resistant). He continues to have a fever. He is depressed. The family has rallied bravely. A young feisty wife came from the village. She is mercifully HIV negative, but it is hard to look after a husband who continues to waste away. Their plump 9 year old son - and Mr. Babulnath's aging father fill in the rest of the family here. Another older son and his mother are in the village, far away in the north.
Mr. Babulnath may die soon. The drugs don't seem to be kicking in. He wants to see his mother and almost persuaded his family to take him (unreserved of course) on the long 2 day train journey to his village. Instead his mother is now coming here.
Where do we fit in the picture? We try to share hope. We try to do what is medically possible. We meet and pray and talk and listen. We serve as a conduit from a church where some of the members are collecting food from their table for Mr. Babulnath (and others like him - see A Handfull of Rice). We help by providing day-care and a midday meal for Nikhil at our Child Care Centre (see Kid's Stuff). We share about Mr. Babulnath to others to pray for him and his family.
In some ways the sum of what we are able to do seems so little and so sadly inadequate for the complex set of needs that Mr. Babulnath and his family are experiencing. But at least it is a little.
Pray for each one of our staff who regularly meet Mr. Babulnath and so many others like him. Rahul, Varsha, Shanti, Lata, Seema, Daniel, Sanjeev and others are key to seeing change and hope take place. But all of us end up drained by the experiences of break down.
Pray also for local churches and prayer groups to live out the love God gives them in practical ways.
What do we do when things don't seem to be getting better? For one thing we don't give up. We can't afford too. Eternity is too long.