Is not this the fast that I choose? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house ...? Isaiah 58:6-7The King will answer them, 'As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren you did it to me'. Matthew 2
Astrid was the eighteen-year-old twin sister of my patient Edna. Orphans, they were homeless, jobless and sick, Astrid with an undiagnosed kidney disease, and Edna a psychiatric outpatient with a personality problem. Her illness and the emotional trauma of separation from her mother made Astrid remote and withdrawn, with an acute reactive depression exacerbated by her sister's rudeness and neglect, and fear of hospitalisation.
I asked Edna to bring her. She 'dumped' Astrid on me, rolling in pain, but refusing investigation and admission. She made my office her home, and I changed my routine to sleep with her, seeing patients elsewhere. Gradually she began to regard me as a friend, and through a therapeutic and prayerful relationship, her depression lifted and she agreed to an intravenous pyelogram as an outpatient. Finally a Christian family took her into their home, in return for help in the house.
After two days she failed to return after an outpatient visit. We could not find her. Three days later Edna's friends saw her lying unkempt and dirty in Luneta Park. She did not recognise them, and Edna, to my annoyance, would not fetch her.
That evening I became worried. Astrid was oliguric, haematuric, and dysuric with left loin pain. Was she developing metabolic encephalopathy? I prayed, and God spoke to me through Matthew 25:40. How much did I really care? and for whom? I decided to look for her myself together with a Christian third year medical student. We asked everyone we met, called at police stations and searched fruitlessly for hours in the park. We had to 'call it a day' and committed Astrid to God.
Next day Astrid was at the hospital gate untidy and withdrawn but refusing admission. patiently and firmly, unhelped by Edna, I persuaded her to come in and again my office became her home. There she attended Bible studies I and my co-residents held. She finally agreed to proper investigation and treatment.
Lord God, help me to know and to trust the fact that
you honour and answer persistent, prevailing prayer.
Further reading: Lk 11:5-13, 18:1-8a.