Not long ago I listened to a sermon entitled, “When giving thanks is hard to do”. We all have had times where our circumstances have made us anything but thankful to God. In Psalm 137, the people of Israel found themselves in a foreign land in captivity and asking themselves, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:4). The pastor went on to say that there is a reason and structure to all of the psalms and that it is no coincidence that in order to get to Psalm 137 you have to go through Psalm 136 (more on this in a bit).
I first started treating Juan in June 2017 when he came to our hospital with a horrific open wound and exposed bone resulting from a motorcycle accident. He had been told that his only option was to have an amputation after multiple failed treatment attempts to heal his wounds. Over the months Juan has given me a real life example of someone who is able to praise God despite being in a foreign land. I am not talking about foreign in the sense of nationality, as Juan is Honduran, but in the sense of being in a place in life that you are not accustomed to, and that is unfamiliar.
Juan felt God’s prompting to seek help and another opinion at our hospital and so he followed that prompting. Despite the overwhelming circumstances of trying to heal an infected wound with exposed dead bone along with a complicated fracture, our team (including Dr. Alexander and Dr. McKenney) set out to do everything we could to try to save Juan’s leg from amputation, including prayer. His treatment has included skin grafting, antibiotic cement, a tibial nail and bone grafting. During the past year and a half we have had many ups and downs including several times where it seemed like we were losing ground. But despite all the difficulties, every visit with Juan was one of assurance that God was in control and would provide.
At one of his clinic visits last year I asked Juan what he had been reading in his bible recently. He said that he had been experiencing more discouragement than usual so he decided to open his bible and the first thing he came across was Psalm 136 and since then he could not stop reading it. Juan had set his heart and mind on the promises of God, having faith that despite his circumstances, God’s love endures forever. Meaning that God would continue to love and care for Juan no matter what troubles he was going through or that would come, and thus, Juan could continue to have an attitude of gratitude even in a foreign land. Juan also told me at that visit that he had faith that his leg would be healed for God’s glory.
Last month Juan had what we hope is his final operation on his leg. We both were filled with joy, awe and wonder at the work of God as Juan was able to walk into clinic, with the assistance of crutches, using his leg for the first time again since his accident. Juan and his story have been a true testimony that by remembering God’s love for us, and how he has been faithful to us in the past, it is possible to have a thankful heart and praise God even in the midst of trials and tribulations. I have been personally challenged because I usually find myself identifying more with the grumbling people of Israel in Psalm 137 then with the joyful Juan who exemplifies Psalm 136. So my prayer is that the next time we find ourselves in “foreign land”, which may even be at this very moment, we would, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1).
Thank you for all who have and continue to pray for Juan and his family!