I had a discussion with a more experienced physician of whom I was asking for advice. I call Steve with medical questions because he can help me sort out the balance of taking good care of patients in a resource limited situation and how to weigh futility against aggressive hope. But our conversation this time was more about interpersonal relationships in a pandemic when opinions can be so varied. We drifted into discussions of the role of missions in Kenya versus other parts of the world, how do we deal with people dying who would never die in a developed nation. We acknowledged that we deny the trauma of watching people die compartmentalizing it into some sort of work related box disconnected from our emotions. Finally we ended up in theology. Later, I was emailing with another friend Matt, and shared some thoughts that came out of that conversation which I have posted below copied from our email. This thought has been stuck in my brain since talking with Steve, and I am trying hard to sort whether it is true.
I have been thinking a lot about how as Christians we are called to die, not called to live. Also wondering about affluent Christianity, and how it affects my own thinking. Kenya Christians and Peruvian Christians think about God as suffering with them, not taking care of them. A subtle difference, but I know I pray for God’s provision probably as much as his presence (or I am thinking more of his care of me instead of just being with me). I am afraid that is cultural baggage and not the true message of Christ. Our truly poor brothers probably have it more correct.
Steve mentioned that he had been studying the story of Jesus in the boat with his disciples. Jesus slept, the storm came and threatened to sink their boat. The disciples woke Jesus and he calmed the storm saving the boat and his followers. We often read this story as Jesus protection and power over even the storm. And I agree with that. But Steve pointed out that God does not always save the boat. We see Jesus followers die all the time. Within the last week I have watched two mothers die leaving widowed husbands and motherless children. Jesus own disciples (except John) were all killed for the gospel’s sake. But Jesus is always in the boat with us, whether it stays afloat or goes down. So he may not rescue us in our times of struggle, but for sure he is with us, and that is good news too.