Let the bones you have crushed rejoice

Ana is currently back in Wolaita Soddo, Ethiopia, for the summer. She is living and interning at Soddo Christian Hospital, which is run through the collaboration of missionaries and Ethiopian doctors. The reflections below are from her first update email!

We asked the man to wiggle his toes. He looked around at the crowd of nurses and surgeons standing around his hospital bed and, with great focus, began to slowly move his right toes. The movement was almost imperceptible. Dr. Duane looked at the man and started laughing with delight; he gave the beaming patient a fist bump.

“This is a miracle! Let’s pray that this man will walk again someday.”

Our chaplain bent over the man, whose grin was still wide at his small-yet-seismic victory, and they prayed in Amharic. Dr. Duane turned to me and explained that the man had been badly hit by a vehicle and had experienced damage to his spine and legs, making paralysis of his lower extremities likely. Our hospital’s orthopedic surgeons had operated on him, putting several screws into both of his tibias in hope that his legs might be saved. Now they were not only saved, but regaining movement.

As a college student merely observing, it can be easy for the gravity of such moments to be lost on me; my medical knowledge is growing but limited, and I lack the longitudinal experience to identify rare patient outcomes. However, in this instance, the reactions of our orthopedics team made it clear that this kind of progress was not usual. God had been involved in bringing healing to this patient’s trauma.

As I later reflected on this moment from morning rounds, it struck me that the man’s healing was not only an answer to our orthopedic team’s prayers — it was also an answer to a prayer of mine. Just that morning, I had prayed Psalm 51, which says this:

“…Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me…”

Prompted by these verses and a 30-day prayer guide, I had asked God to show me His power to restore: His ability to bring healing from brokenness, joy from sorrow, life from death. Little did I know His answer would come in the wiggles of a patient’s toes, and that I would quite literally witness crushed bones being renewed with great rejoicing in our orthopedics ward.

I believe that God is in the business of restoration — that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection made a way for all that is broken in the world to be made right, and this is where I find true hope. This process of restoration is happening but ongoing and presently incomplete. Individuals still get hit by vehicles in the street; pain still exists; injustice still wreaks havoc on individuals, communities, and systems. Indeed, Soddo Christian Hospital exists because there is much restorative work left to be done, and God has chosen to use flawed humans, in need of restoration themselves, to bring it about. He does this through the power of the Holy Spirit, the blessing of medicine, and as a demonstration of His love.

One day, SCH will be obsolete, for there will come a time when God’s restoration is made full: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things [will] have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Until then, the hospital will carry on in its mission “to heal and make disciples.” I’m so thankful to be here for another summer. I have much to learn and little to offer, but God has brought me back and I’m excited to see what He will continue to reveal about His power to restore!

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