Tuesday, October 2, 2012

missing pieces

Today I went to visit a Guinean man who has a huge tumor growing up into his face and mouth. It has been growing for the past 5 years and he hasn't been able to eat anything solid for the past 2 years. Before the tumor started growing he was a professional football star for the Guinea national team, everyone knew who he was. When I look at him now, I can't tell what he used to look like because the tumor is all I can see. It bulges out of the side of his face and he keeps part of it covered up, the part that is oozing out of his mouth. The only way he can drink is to pull his cheek away and stick a syringe into a small pocket in the back of his mouth. Flies buzz around him all the time and the eye that is being pushed out by the tumor weeps constantly. At home he sits in a small room on a mattress on the floor with his head over a bucket to catch the dripping fluids.

We are waiting for the biopsy report to come back to find out if the tumor is cancerous. I am seeing him to see if he can gain at least 7kg by November when the right surgeons will be here to do the surgery. Not being able to eat solid foods for 2 years has made him emaciated. He is so weak it is difficult for him to walk and he is in constant pain from the pressure of his neck holding up the tumor. Today he had lost weight instead of gaining and the tumor has started growing faster. It's becoming harder for him to swallow and the pain from the tumor is becoming more intense. Today I prayed with him before we left; for the tumor to stop growing, for him to gain weight, for him to stay alive until he is able to have surgery. Without turning to God it felt so hopeless, and without Him it is.

I can't possibly imagine what it is like to have that happen to me. To have a lump on my face, it start to grow and not be able to do anything about it. Not only to have it grow but to have it completely take over my face and mouth. For me to hide in a room all day with my face dripping in a bucket and flies swarming around me. To know that I have something so strange and ugly on my face that I am afraid to leave my room because people will stare and be disgusted. To wake up and wonder how much bigger it will get today, how many more days until I suffocate to death or can't swallow anymore.

He lives with this ugliness on his face, slowly sucking the life out of him, visible for everyone to see. I started to wonder today, what if we all lived with our ugliness on our face, out in the open, like a huge tumor. All of the ugly flaws and missing pieces of our character we hide from everyone, right there. I know I have uglyness hidden deep down, until someone or something brings it up. The trouble is I don't know how to get rid of it by myself. I try, sometimes I succeed a little bit but mostly I fail.  I can' t remove a tumor from my face, and I can't take out my ugly flaws either.  Only a master surgeon can cut out a huge tumor and fill in the missing places in someone's face. Only God can help me cut away the hidden ugly tumors in my heart and replace the missing pieces. Only God can make something of a man's hopeless situation.

"Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; see for yourself whether I've done anything wrong - then guide me on the road to eternal life." Psalm 139:23-24 (The Message)