deep hunger

18 Jul

“the place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”  frederick buechner

it is a beautiful thing: to feel like the thing you are doing is exactly what you were made to do.  i have felt it this year, in my first year as a doctor to children, and i have felt it even more here, being the doctor for children in a developing country.  the rhythm of waking up to go see patients in the pediatrics ward has been surprisingly fulfilling, despite all of the sadness and frustration we have faced.  the ability to show people i care about them, the intellectual stimulation of thinking through a patient’s disease, the opportunity to witness the joy of a recovering child and also to sit beside a mother who is grieving a loss, experiencing the thrill of a new culture and language, basking in the natural beauty of the world… these are the moments i expected, as i followed God’s call on my heart to medicine and to missions.

and yet, even as we feel those moments of sheer joy in doing what we were made to do, i imagine that many of you can sympathize when i tell you about the moments when i question His plan.  i know you created me uniquely for this call, God, but… why did i have to be the one you chose to go through the grueling hours of medical school and residency?  why did you have to choose me to give up the comfort of the western world to eat goat meat and cabbage salad?  

no matter where we find ourselves — whether in places of growth through hardship, or even in places where we are envied by others — the question comes, often at times of exhaustion.  why did you call me to teaching high schoolers?  why did you choose me to minister to the homeless?  why did i have to lose my father to gain a ministry to others who have lost their loved ones?  why do i have to struggle with infertility?  why did you call me to be a stay-at-home mom? 

i don’t mean to imply that God imposes pain and hardship on us.  the problem of pain is much better detailed by c.s. lewis and others… i am ill-equipped to go there.  but i do think that each of us can see the good that God has done through our sacrifices and sufferings.  and to that extent, we can say that he has called us to that ministry.

so as i ask that question, wondering why this “deep gladness” in me (as i care for pediatric patients in ghana) has to be so challenging and difficult… he reveals to me one answer.  an answer that, while not always enough, is undisputable.

and the King will tell them, ‘i assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me.’  matthew 25:40

the least of these.  yes, it is hard for me to be far away from my family.  it is difficult for me to sacrifice the comfort of a beautiful home and my favorite foods.  but it is so very hard for that mother to walk four miles to arrive at our clinic.  it is incredibly exhausting for her to keep all three children calm, while the white doctor examines one of the them and the other has an accident on the floor (no diapers here).  and it is heartbreaking when her beloved child, who was playing with his friends two days ago, takes his last breath because malaria has taken his body hostage.

that is why he has called me here.  that is why he has called you there.  he knows the hardship we endure — he gave up his only Son.  but he knows that the trials we endure pale in comparison to the wonder of His love.  the love that we will experience and “the least of these” will experience, if we only heed his call.

i once thought all these things were so very important, but now i consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.  yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  philippians 3:8 


4 Responses to “deep hunger”

  1. carl & Elaine Baldridge July 19, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    Our hearts break and are encouraged at the same time by your words. Through your time there we have been with you and been able to share to some extent the joys and sorrows of your time with God’s precious children and their families. We love you and continue to support your decisions wherever God leads you.
    Mom and Dad B.

  2. Karen Tucker July 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    I can only echo the sentiments of the Baldridges –

    Love you all,

  3. Jonathan Whitmore July 19, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

    Good words, Neyner! I feel you. You write very well, and I really appreciate the quote that you started with. It’s crazy to think that you’re just now beginning to experience that deep gladness that God put a desire in you for when you were but a wee one :). How faithful our God is! We love you lots, and keep up the good work! J, K and L

  4. Tommy Tucker July 21, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    Courtney – My heart goes out to you as you feel the presence of God and hear His calling. It is a wonderful thing to know God has touched your heart in such a way as to give you direction to serve Him.
    Love you, Tommy

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