Radical Love

We know that we have passed from death to life because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.
-1 John 3:14, NIV

Jessica walked into the room of her patient. She was on day three of 12-hour shifts. During the first wave, she was terrified each day that she went to work. The virus seemed to have come out of nowhere. There was so little information about how it worked. During the first wave, she spoke to her mom each night and they prayed. They prayed for the people dying in the hallways of her hospital. They prayed for her co-workers. They prayed for front-line workers everywhere. They prayed for the decision-makers, the researchers, the government, and the entire healthcare system. They prayed every day that something would shift this nightmare into hope.

A year later, hope began to rise slowly as vaccinations numbers crept slowly towards the President’s goal. Jessica and her mom were looking forward to spending some quality, in-person time together. During the first wave, she dared not travel to Alabama from Florida to see her parents. They were in their seventies and were vulnerable. Jessica was grateful that they still could take care of each other. She was grateful that her husband could stay home with their children. She was grateful that God had protected her during the first wave.

Now, as she walked into her patient’s room in the Florida hospital, the hope they prayed for was slowly dissipating. She wished that she had taken that week off in June to go see her parents. Now, no telling when she would be able to hug them, kiss them, and sit in their presence. As she checked on her patient’s vitals, she recalled the worry in her mom’s voice. She recalled the stoic way her dad said, “Take care of yourself Jitterbug.” He was trying to be strong for the three of them. He was trying to be a man of faith, but she caught the slight crack in his voice. He was worried just like her mom.

Jessica thought of all of this as she looked at her patient, a ten-year-old boy, whose parents were not vaccinated. She remembered when they brought him into the emergency room. They were crying and yelling for help. He was having trouble breathing. They thought he had a touch of the flu. They refused to believe that he could have Covid. Even when Jessica suggested a Covid test, they refused and asked for a white doctor. She said that she was the only doctor present and that her white male colleague was two hours away. At first, they wanted to wait. Then, one of her nurses, a white woman, finally convinced them to allow the test. Braden tested positive. Jessica and her team went to work.

Three days later, they were able to stabilize him. Three days later, Jessica was trying her best not to be angry. She was trying her best to stand on her faith and focus on helping her patient.

She tried to ignore Braden’s mother who was listening to a religious broadcast on a radio app. Jessica wasn’t sure which station, but she tried her best to ignore the host. She didn’t want to hear any more rhetoric about the vaccine not being safe or about how forcing children to wear masks was violating the rights of the child and their parents. She just didn’t want to hear any more of it.

Fifteen minutes later, she finished her visit with Braden, wrote up his chart, said a silent prayer for him, and turned to leave the room. She was at the door when she heard Braden’s mother speak.

“Today’s Bible verse got me to thinking.” Jessica stopped in her tracks and listened for Braden’s mother to continue. After a long pause, the tearful woman repeated, “Today’s Bible verse got me to thinking. Rev. Minton read 1 John 3:14, that says, ‘We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.’ It got me to thinking about love. How it shows up in the most unlikely places.” The woman paused again. Jessica slowly turned around to face her. She looked at Braden’s mother. The woman was tired from sitting at her son’s bedside and sleeping in the chair. Jessica took in her features and waited.

The woman continued, “It got me to thinking that maybe love can come from those who are different from us. That God can use anyone to help us. That love is about giving life to others. That Braden…” She trailed off then she finally looked up at Jessica. She allowed the tears to flow as she looked into Jessica’s eyes. With all the love she could give Jessica at that moment, she said, “Thank you.”

Jessica allowed the woman’s words to dissipate all the anger, all the fear, and all the hurt she had been feeling since this second wave began. She stood long enough to regain her composure, looked at Braden’s mom compassionately, and allowed the corners of her lips to curve upward, even though they wouldn’t be seen through the mask. She allowed her eyes to communicate her sincerity then she simply said, “You’re welcome.”

Jessica walked out of the room and onto her next patient. She prayed that God’s love would get them through this second wave.

Prompt for Thought: How were you shown love in the first wave? Have you been shown love in the second wave? How will you show love in this second wave?

Prayer for the Journey: God help this second wave to crash onto the shore without damaging us like the first wave did. Help us to love each other enough to do the right thing to help turn this and any other wave back to the sea. Help us to love each other unto life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.