in the group of people that i call my Church Family, there is a man (K) who is dying. he is dying of AIDS. he is dying because he has stopped taking his ARVs. in the last year, i have watched him shrink several pants sizes, become unkempt and listless, dirty and rumpled, and mentally altered, with deep and painful-looking sores cracking the corners of his mouth.
we aren’t sure why he’s stopped taking the ARVs, but neither of the possible reasons is a good one. it is either because he has stopped taking them in his depressive state over his beloved mother’s slow dying process these last two years, or because he cannot afford to pay for these life-saving drugs.
and i don’t know how to help him. he trusts Jesus as His savior, and He has experienced the unconditional love of the Father through his mother and this Church Family, i think, even in his open homosexuality (i’m so grateful for this because i know that is a sadly uncommon experience). i believe He’ll go Home on the day that He dies.
but then i wonder, does he really even have to die? couldn’t he yet choose life? if we could get him his medications, perhaps then he would have a while longer? if we could somehow sort through all the unhealthy codependencies that leads him to wish for death rather than a life without a living mother, perhaps he’d stop this slow suicide?
sometimes i get caught up in the larger picture, too…. all the social injustices and unfair infrastructure that make the lives of men like K so difficult, demoralizing, and desperate. these are systemic flaws to “the system” that make it so that some people have every opportunity in the world and others not a fighting chance. i can’t fix all of that in my lifetime, let alone in time for K to get his medications and a healing diet and good counseling services and all the other things that might turn his life around.
but God. He sees. I believe He knows K, and is holding Him still. i don’t understand why He doesn’t want to social-work K’s life to make things better for him this side, or heal him in an instant, but i’m glad that K is with us here for now, receiving some affection and hearing the words of God.
as i took a breather from writing this post, because i wasn’t sure what to say next, i noticed this status update from a Facebook friend:
Some of the most comforting words from Jesus: “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” -John 13:7
maybe that’s a place to end this.
ps: tonight during worship at our Church gathering, i took a video K holding hands with one of our Vision Course students. this, my friends, is the kingdom of God on earth. i was so humbled and touched by the sight of this dear dirty and untouchable middle-aged man holding hands with a clean-and-tidy young woman.