Thirty-two years old, ninety pounds, no joy. She was trying to do the right thing. Undoubtedly she had been consumed with regrets and painful introspection, and waged a lonely battle with denial, fear, and shame. Deep secrets had been divulged to the people whom they would hurt the most. The decision to move forward meant confiding in strangers and trusting their motivation.
After clearing all of these hurdles, things did not improve. The medications that were to make her healthier, made her sicker. The decisions that were supposed to be in her best interest, resulted in multiple admissions to the hospital (and multiple hospital bills). She now had no appetite for food, no energy for the demands of daily life, and a marriage that was suffering under the strain. As she was telling me of her plight, she locked my gaze with tearful, sunken eyes. "Is there hope for me?"
I couldn't answer right away because I wasn't confident in my own voice. The truth is that 10 years ago there would have been no medical reason for hope. The truth for too many of my patients today is equally as desperate. HIV affects an estimated 7% of the Kenyan population. Despite aggressive attempts at education and voluntary testing, most of the infected remain undiagnosed. The ramifications are dire, as the virus slowly depletes the immune system of unsuspecting individuals. The result, HIV is discovered only after it has cleared the way for a life-threatening infection.
I was hopeful that my smile would convey my reply as I regained my composure. She was in the right place. While there is no cure for HIV, there is an expanding repertoire of medications that prohibit replication of the virus, and allow for the immune system to recover. She had had multiple adverse side effects to medication, but other options were available. Her husband who was tested HIV negative was holding her hand, and his silent tears professed his love and his loyalty. There is hope.
Of course, despite my optimism I could not assure her that she would not die of a complication of AIDS. Her prognosis remained very guarded, and that was not a notion that was lost on anyone who looked at her. But until Jesus Christ returns for His church it is the destiny of all men and women to die and face judgment. Yet, God revealed the mystery that was hidden through ages and generations, that Jesus Christ dwells in the hearts of his people, and he is their hope of glory (Col 1:26-27). There is hope.
God has provided me with a ministry to provide hope for those without hope. I have the privilege to show desperate people that there is a mighty savior who loves them and is available through prayer. Assurance of medical recovery is often not possible, but spiritual healing is assured for all who repent and follow after Jesus Christ. He has provided a way. Praise God, there is hope.