Monday, February 10, 2020

God Will Make a Way (in Iquique)

I couldn't believe my ears. It's an overused phrase but the exact truth. Literally, my jaw dropped in both shock and laughter because after the morning I had it was unfathomable. Was God sending heavenly encouragement in such a high stress moment? Or a slap upside the head to change my bad attitude?? Either way, He had my attention.

That sticky summer Monday morning in Iquique I had been summoned to the regional hospital emergency room for a follow-up appointment with a young female surgeon. She had kindly seen me the week prior when a slight fever created concern after my gall bladder surgery in Santiago the week before that. My four hours in the public hospital were a rather shocking (and educational) contrast to the forty-eight comfortable hours I spent in a private clinic, and I was not too keen on returning. Nonetheless, I had the best of intentions as I began the drive downtown. I also had all car windows down as I fruitlessly sought cool air. What I found instead was a traffic jam.

Problem #1: It was the date for the re-attempt of the PSU, Chile's annual required test for graduating seniors to determine their possibilities for higher education. Already the test had been delayed for over a month due to the social crisis. Then the first attempt was sabotaged by protesters and students were sent home from test locations for their safety. In order for this second attempt to succeed, police set a perimeter around testing locations. I was unaware of this and found myself re-routed at every turn. Driving downtown is challenging enough that I usually follow a few strict routes from point A to point B, but this experience was point-less! I found myself frustrated by the driving situation and also on behalf of the students (several who were classmates of our daughter) caught in the middle of this ongoing national mess.

Problem #2: Our public hospital is overtaxed and undersupplied. The waiting room has few seats and is always overflowing. There is no air conditioning and most people find the open-air ambulance bay a cooler alternative during the hours of waiting. I had visited and taken people to the hospital but this was only my second time being attended. I had also been given the unusual instructions of bypassing check in to let the doctor know I was there for a follow up visit. How to do so was a bit of a mystery, but my friend who works at the hospital suggested giving the doctor's name to the guard in charge of the doors between the waiting room and ER. Unfortunately, the guard raised a suspicious eyebrow and informed me he had never heard of a doctor by that name! Obviously, since I had just been attended by her the week before I knew I was right and he was wrong. But just how to convince him of this fact without making him even less willing to help? He unenthusiastically dialed a number which confirmed the doctor's existence, then to my dismay proceeded to the front of a long line of waiting people to ask the receptionist what to do with me. I seized the opportunity provided by his absence to tag a passing nurse who took me directly back to the ER and the doctor while the guard was still talking. The doctor acknowledged my arrival but asked me to hold on as she was the only doctor on duty, so I joined the ambulance bay crowd for about the next hour. As I was about to nod off to sleep from the warmth and the waiting, the doctor reappeared and guided me through the hallways until she found an available bed to check my sutures and write me a script for one more test.

Weaving through crowds and vendors and buses and taxis on foot until I reached my car several blocks away, I again found myself entangled in detours with exasperation rising as I tried to reach the clinic where the test could be done. If it wasn't police barricades, it was construction. And it wasn't just me, but dozens of other vehicles squeezing down narrow side streets trying to reach main roads. Did I mention it was sticky and hot with no air conditioning? It was after so much frustration and feeling like I was fighting my way through a concrete jungle that I found myself stopped at a red light. And it was there that the sound reached my ears.

"God will make a way, where there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me ..." The words in English floated from a loudspeaker on the sidewalk and through the open window of my little car. People were walking to and fro and cars were honking and vendors hawking their wares, but this one solitary man was playing his violin. His bow on strings was accompanying a song I had never heard publicly projected in Chile outside my own home (and even that was decades ago.) Not to mention it was in English in a Spanish-speaking country! After a hot, frustrating morning of grumpily trying to "make my way" through rerouted streets with my blood pressure and disgust rising at every turn, it couldn't have been more ironic yet fitting.

A part of me wanted to laugh and cry and said, "I get it, Lord! Thank you for showing me You see all this and You care!" But to be perfectly honest, another part of me wanted to say, "Ok, this is cool and all but I do not want to change my mood! This is not how I wanted to spend my morning and it has been hot and stressful and I want to stay grumpy!"

I wish I could say the heavens opened and angels sang and my heart grew happy in that moment. That would be a tidy, encouraging ending to this story but it isn't exactly true. The light changed, I continued in traffic, and my next stop was another comedy of errors. But I didn't forget the moment at the stoplight and the music that seemed meant just for me. It continues to be a reminder that God cares about the little details of life and the way we respond when things don't go the way we want them to. Nothing catches Him by surprise as it does us, and He can be trusted to work even "in ways we cannot see." Praise Him!

1 comment:

Bonnie Truax said...

All that combined would be so frustrating. The heat on top of it all would have sent me over the edge. Did you feel like Samuel when you heard those words in English? :)