Troubles don't come singly.
One family that Sheba met today - we will call them the Mr. and Mrs. Mali - have a child who keeps getting fits. Three months ago was the last time they came into the clinic. Sheba's notes have her prescribing a simple but imporant epileptic medicine. They did not take it. Rather they have gone through various religious and occult practices to try and get rid of the fits. The child still has them. Sheba expressed how angry she felt with the mother and father for not following through with what is most likely to help. Towards the end of the time Mrs. Mali said that they have a new problem. Mr. Mali's sister - who was married recently - has been abandonned by her husband. She is also living with them. That would mean Mr. and Mrs. Mali, their 4 daughters, his mother, his sister and her child all living in a room no more than 8 by 10 feet.
Another family - Mr. and Mrs. Chandu - came later. The oldest of their 4 kids is HIV positive (like his parents). The middle 2 are negative. The baby is yet to be tested. A 9 month old child the baby weighs less than a 6 month old should. The oldest was recently admitted with pneumonia in a large govt. hospital all the way down in south Mumbai. Why they did not come to us? We had diagnosed from before that the boy had lost part of his lung function because of untreated TB. The big hospital did a CT scan of the chest and came up with the same conclusion. 'Permanent damage' is what the family was told. "Please take our children and put them in some hostel - some place where they can live" is what the parents asked today.
Oh, for some big green button to press.
A one shot solution to all the misery we have around us. All the misery that we are ourselves.
We don't have one of course.
But that doesn't mean that there are not solutions.
The very horrid nature of so much of what we see - the very recoiling and wondering about how much worse can things get - points to something beyond - a hunger for home - a deep-down-desire for things to be right, to be safe, to be as they should be.
Our own anger at the crazy illogic of poverty is real. We have to be moved with grit at the ripping up of lives that continues to go on while the trappings of the material splendour of 'India shining' (Sensex bubblign ever upwards - now over 20,000? homes retailing for 25 lakhs a shot? vegetable prices at what meat used to cost?). If we do not react emotionally to the relational wasteland that so many of us are going through - and the horrible aftermath of foolish decisions that people make - then we would only be made of stone.
Anger is real. The key is not to let the anger overwhelm. Not to allow it to overflow. Never to give it control.
That's not easy. Self-control is low on most of our priority lists.
The Bible talks about the fruit of the Spirit. An amazing list: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Gal. 5.22-23).
We don't have simple solutions for these two families. Any answers we have are more at the level of becoming. We cry out to Jesus to help. To be the wonderful counselor that He is. To take our lips and hands and hearts and do that which can be done with these dear families. To seek changes that are real and last - and not just a bandaid over the wound.
Pray for us as we seek to link these families up with people from local churches. It seems impossible - but it can be done. Pray for breakthroughs at different levels - and for rest and hope for the parents as they live through their own HIV status - and make good choices for themselves and their kids.