‘Loving away the hurt’

* used with the artist’s permission

The Fires of Sorrow are real, a personal journey of struggle. Throughout their lifetime many feel the pressure of that raging war within, days when they long for peace.  As I write, I find myself questioning yet again: ‘Am I prepared to set aside my own private personal struggle hidden within the secret corners of my heart, for the sake of others?  My case studies cry out for consolation, lives torn apart by grief. Real people longing for someone, something to ease the pain within their broken heart, minds burned out in need of restoration, the desperately poor who feed on the husks around them, the elderly, whose strength is almost gone, hiding their problems behind a faint smile.    Yes, I am questioning my heart: ‘Am I the one who can build a bridge of love, listen with an understanding heart and underpin their burdens?’ The forsaken, the lonely, the crying child without a home, the hungry, the lost need to know of the One who came because He loved them. Together we can tell them of the One who can mend the broken heart, restore relationships and rebuild a bridge of hope.   ‘Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up.  And he was restored and saw everyone clearly’ Mark 8: 25. 

Young and old experience anguish and despair, dark shadows of loss.  How can I begin to interpret the sorrow in the heart of our darling Paula (11).  Everything may look the same but nothing will ever be the same again. ‘Mummy’ has gone.   

Paula’s mum died one week ago after fighting a long battle with cancer. She has no siblings and there was a very special bond between Paula and her treasured mum.  She knew her mum would not recover.  One morning, prior to her passing, Paula cradled her mum and gently hugged her, whispering softly, ‘I love you mummy; I will always love you’.   The pain of these words, uncertain of who will care for her in sickness, attend to her scraped knee, cook her favourite meal, laundry …. Who will love away Paula’s hurt, who will show they care?

Recently, we took into our care a sweet little girl of four years of age diagnosed with a rare syndrome (AGS syndrome). She is fed through a gastrostomy and is only able to communicate through signs. She has two older siblings who are deeply affected by their younger sister’s illness. Her older sister is involved in her care as the father is working abroad.  There was no employment to be found in Romania and he had to make the heart-rendering decision to leave his family to find employment in another country in order to provide for them.  No daddy to read her a bedtime story or a special kiss ‘Goodnight’ for Daddy’s girl.  Who will love away this little darling’s hurt?

Kristof (7) has now been admitted to hospital for chemotherapy. He has two younger siblings at home. The family live in the depths of poverty, their darkness is black and yet they hide the scars of life behind a smile of thankfulness.  Who would love us enough to provide food on our table or would love us enough to show they care?  The family are very grateful each time we provide food for them. Will you love away the hurt of little Kristof – chemotherapy is frightening for one so young who is too sick to play with his friends.

In the everydayness of life, we can get caught up in so many practicalities, my alone time with the Lord is ‘mine’ – a special time when I can really ‘talk’ to Him and where He reminds me that I always must make time for others, including those for whom each minute of each day is a strain.  I am drawn to my dear friend Elizabeth who has fought a long battle with cancer.  My visits in their small humble home are engraved in my heart, where John would read the Scriptures and Elisabeth would sing.  On occasions, a few of our patients enter remission – Elizabeth was one of them.  Her cancer returned resulting in immediate surgery.  She is now at home where she is under the loving care of our medical team.  My colleague Adriana is overseeing her care on a daily basis.  Our Hospice team certainly love away all fear.

Two other precious patients who were also in remission and who are now in a critical condition.  Margareta was diagnosed with colon cancer ten years ago, during this time she had a colostomy and was cancer free for a few years.  Following a recent consultation and investigations a malignant tumour has been located in her abdomen, resulting in immediate surgery.  Margareta is experiencing extreme pain during this recovery period.   Her husband is very discouraged her remission ended in this manner, as their children are unable to assist them.  Their son-in-law who lives in another city also suffers from cancer.   

Elena, another patient who relapsed, was diagnosed with breast cancer approximately four years ago.  She entered the care of our Hospice team as the chemotherapy brought her condition to a very critical state. The oncologist changed her treatment and her illness was under control until recently. The tumour has become ulcerated, resulting in the patient’s condition reaching an acute stage.   Elena has no one to comfort her in her pain, no one to calm her fears as her beloved husband died as a result from Covid.  Her only son is trying to care for his mother.  Who will love away Elena’s pain?

Nicolae (51) entered our care two weeks ago diagnosed with a brain tumour. He and his beloved wife expressed their burning desire to be baptised together, inviting our team to witness their baptism.  The decision was not taken lightly as they believed in their hearts if they followed the Lord in this way, the Lord would graciously touch Nicolae.  Our team continue to care for Nicolae and see evidence that the Lord is working in the hearts of this precious couple who have placed their future in the One who loves them most. Pray with us that their faith will remain steadfast even if Nicolae’s condition deteriorates.  Nicolae is stable at present; however, his illness can become more aggressive at any time.

Florica is a patient suffering from pulmonary cancer with metastasis situated all over her abdomen especially the lower part.  Due to the tumours, she is confined to an armchair where she remains throughout the day and also sleeps in it at night.  This precious sister is fully dependant on an oxygen machine … she has no quality of life; her days are filled with pain and she is discouraged within.  Florica has one desire: ‘I want my suffering to end’.  Who will love away her hurt?  ‘Bow down your ear, O Lord, hear me; for I am poor and needy.  Preserve my life, for I am holy; You are my God; save Your servant who trusts in You!  Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I cry to You all day long’.  Psalm 86: 1-3.

There are many heartaches deep within the hearts of many; the weight they carry is heavy, the need of comfort is real.  The Lord will never give strength today for tomorrow, or indeed for this next hour.  Of this one thing I am sure, the Lord will give strength for the strain and anxiety of each second of each minute. They must know, we must tell them, ‘Jesus cares.

Our word is our bond; we speak in love praying our words will be planted as a seed and grow.  The team in Iochebed continue to speak words in love, sharing Godly counsel with those who come.  Some seed may fall on hard ground where growth can be disappointing, but then again some may fall on soft and fertile ground, ready for growth.  The Lord has been blessing our small team in Iochebed.  Gabi, Mihaela and Loredana have been sowing seeds in lives scarred by hidden wounds of rejection and disappointment.  The team shared with us their joy in the safe arrival of fourteen babies born during this month. They wish to express their love and thanks to those who support the work of Iochebed.  Many ladies and young girls continue to walk a desert road. 

Denis is an adorable little boy of eleven months.  Sadly, he was born with glaucoma, he has no sight in one eye with only 20% vision in the other.  Surgery has been scheduled late July where a specialist team will attempt to raise the percentage from 20% to 50% vision in the one eye. Baby Denis has already undergone surgery for the eye that is not functional. Unfortunately, there were serious issues warranting another intervention the following day.  This precious little bundle of joy is suffering extreme pain and discomfort since the second surgery.  His young mother is distraught and fearful of this next surgery.  May the Lord gather this little one in His arms and touch his eyes, removing all pain and causing Denis to have perfect vision. I pray his young mother will come to know the healer of shattered hearts.

Cosmina is a young mother having two children aged two and an adorable baby girl aged eleven months. Cosmina came to Iochebed searching, reaching out to us in the depth of her despair, searching for peace in her moments of hardship.  Her baby was admitted to hospital suffering from pneumonia. This tiny bundle remains unwell and requires ongoing treatment.  The medication is not a luxury, but is essential if the baby is to make a full recovery. Cosmina quietly asked for our help to finance the treatment for her baby.  Real days of pain, real lives with nowhere to turn.  Sadness fills many hearts, furrowed brows, faces who know only trouble.  Who else is going to carry their trouble?  Through your commitment, we can show them the way to ‘trust and not be afraid’.

Simida (25) was nearing the time of her confinement.  She came asking for our support in prayer as she was overwhelmed with fear owing to her many health issues.  Her young heart was filled with despair knowing the possibility of the complications incurred.  The family of Iochebed prayed together. As she left a small smile assured us peace had entered her young heart. The Lord intervened and despite her many health issues a healthy baby boy was born.  We give thanks to the Lord who indeed is the God of miracles.  This man called Jesus can dispel all fears, whisper peace to a churning heart, refresh burned out minds and destroyed lives.  The mysteries of life can be faced with a confident smile, a quiet heart of trust.  He is the One who can love all the hurt away with just one touch.

Sorina is a young mother with two children aged six and two years.  In addition, she is pregnant with her third child. Sorina has miscarried two babies in recent years, with the result that the news of this pregnancy is having a physical and mental effect on her.  The burning fires of sorrow burn deeply and Sorina fears she is going to lose this baby also.  Let us pray as the baby develops, her heart will know peace and that she will place a quiet trust in the One who is the creator of life.

The power to ‘Change’, the determination to ‘Go On’, the longing for a life filled with meaning in order to leave behind failed relationships, injustices, where life seems so unfair.  Cups are empty, lives are empty as they come to Casa ‘The House of Grace’ searching for a purpose, where life has a meaning.

Our dedicated team at Casa Grace take time to listen and to show love in action.  This morning as we spoke on the telephone, Monika shared regarding one of our beneficiaries, a lady from the Roma community who lives twenty kilometres outside Oradea.

The lady came to Casa with tears in her eyes, sharing that after Casa Grace started to support them, she questioned why some people gave money to help them in the hard moments of their life.  Both of her children attend High School and University resulting in extra finance in travelling to and from Oradea.  A few months ago, she began noticing a significant weight loss.   Monika acted immediately as this lady already suffers from glaucoma and is nearly blind.  Her husband, who works in construction, has serious heart problems. Blood tests and RMN show no reason for her weight loss.  Each day is a daily struggle to find food sufficient for the day.  Her heart is so overwhelmed by your support of food and hygiene that she and her family have started to attend the local Hungarian Baptist Church.  The power of the gospel can change lives. 

The cup of life can only hold so much – many long for it to overflow with love, joy, peace, contentment, goodness and, yes, moving forward.  Monika and I chat regularly by telephone concerning our families.  Let me share a few of Monika’s thoughts as she writes:     

My mind is filled with faces of young children, teenagers, young adults, who are living in families who are unable to provide much-needed food. Each month when I buy the food and hygiene packages funded by Tell Romania, I give thanks for all the supporters who show love and continuously pray for the families God directs us to support.

The monthly food and hygiene packages is not showing that someone cares for them but more importantly that the Lord cares for them. The families have one thing in common, having children attending kindergarten and/or school. These children carry the sadness of broken families, lack of resources, marginalized in school – but your love and investment in them make them to feel loved and blessed and see the ONE who is ready to save them. 

Doroteea (14) is the oldest child in the family. She lives with her parents and eight brothers and sisters. They live in a village many kilometres from Oradea.  Both parents are hardworking, yet are unable to provide the essential food to feed eleven each day.  Two of her brothers have health issues requiring treatment, adding extra cost to the family.  Doroteea is very responsible and learning well in school – because of your support she has the chance to have more time to learn, more importantly, she doesn’t have to go to bed hungry now. She is seeking for God; we would like to ask your prayers for her to find HIM who provides. 

Abel (6) lives with his grandmother, as his mother abandoned both of her baby sons.   Abel is in the care of grandma together with his older brother Petru (7). Both of them are very introverted as they still remember the violent behaviour of their father and mother. We visit them, taking vital food and hygiene packages.   Their eyes search our eyes as they slowly come closer and closer.  There is a fear of becoming close to anyone who may leave them.  May your support open their hearts to know that Jesus loves them.  Who will love away the hurt of Abel and Petru?

Klara (14) and Aniko (16) come from a family who do not follow the proper procedure of hygiene.  They live in conditions totally indescribable. May they both continue to perform well in school and find Him who can give hope and life.

Iasmina (17) needs to feel loved.  A lonely and insecure young teenager.   May she be encouraged by your continued support for her, enabling her to go to school and have daily bread – may her heart be opened to accept the plan of salvation we set before her.

Robert suffers from severe heart problems and is undergoing treatment.  He is learning well in university.  Next year will be his final year.  May he also feel God’s love, care and plan of salvation for him.  

Who will love away the hurt from lives that are falling apart; children who hide behind a closed-door longing for love – even a ‘hug’; Broken hearts where life will never be the same; the elderly who sit alone in the darkness of despair and question why life seems so unfair; Sir Alexander Patterson penned: ‘Make us Masters of ourselves that we may be the servants of others. Thank you for serving with me, your sense of responsibility in acknowledging that others need to know we care.  Many crumble beneath the crushing weight of day-to-day living, let us love away their hurt and replace their fear and misgivings with the courage to go on.  Our assignment is to reach out and touch ‘EVEN ONE’.

Shirley, July 27, 2023  42B Bernice Road, Co. Antrim. BT36 4QZ

*credit image:    eviantart – Sangeeta1995      instagram -Sangeetacs_art      YouTube -Sangeeta CS