Not fair!!

“How much is it?’ I asked the auto driver as I bargained for a ride to the railway station to pick up a friend. “200 rupees ma’am.” He said without batting an eyelid.”That’s not fair!”I screamed in my head. For 7.2 kms? However, after the battle in my head as to whether I should walk away or bargain (a skill I’m pathetic at!), or just give in, I decided to concede, considering my options of getting another ride was quite bleak at that late hour.

How many times have we felt cheated and said that phrase either in our heads or out loud? If you ask me, the sky would have to serve as the blackboard if I were to start counting.

Yeah it’s not fair that you got screamed at for no fault of yours, it’s not fair that your colleague who does nothing absolutely manages to walk off on time while you’re stuck trying to mop up, it’s not fair that you have to wait longer than others for a breakthrough in your life, it’s not even fair that the your mom’s cooking amazing food at home while you have to make do with the excuse of a meal they’re serving in your hostel , it’s not fair that people your same age are travelling countries and seeing places while you’re still trying to catch that one precious hour of sleep wondering whether you’ve missed anything that your senior might pick on tomorrow morning for rounds, it’s not fair that that mother who waited the longest to have a baby finally lost that child to a drowning accident….I could go on. So could you. Every single day, we have these multiple moments when we think- Oh that’s so not fair!

I’ve been thinking a lot on those lines recently too- with a few recent happenings, I’ve thought- Why should I deserve this? Why isn’t God, being a just God, not doing anything? What have I done to be going through all of this? Why isn’t fire raining down from heaven on all this injustice?

And as I’ve been walking around wrestling in my heart with the Almighty for answers to these questions, He put this thought in my mind. Yeah, so life is not fair. Who said it was anyways?

So you loved and they never loved back; you cared, but they couldn’t care less; you worked hard, but you just got more work in return; you tried hard, nobody noticed; you fell, people just passed by; you were being nice, they took advantage; you were there when they needed a shoulder but you had a rock to cry on- so what do you do? After you’re done with the complaining and the chanting of the phrase that it’s not fair, what do you do?? After the blood boils and the emotions rise and fall?

Now that’s where God stepped in and reminded me of this song that said ‘I am a child of God’. How does that make anything different? It doesn’t change anything or anyone else but it changes something inside of me. Reinforces my identity in Him.

Even if nothing changes, you continue to love, continue to care,continue to work hard, continue to lend your shoulder, continue to share your heart and your life- for you belong to the God who sits on His throne and who watches over you like nobody, mind you, nobody else can. You are His own- the apple of His eye.

And He will see to it that justice is measured out to you- at some point of time when He thinks is perfect and it will be beautiful.

He knows.

What do you think?

The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry (Psalm 34:15)

Carpe Diem!

The chapel bell had rung, heralding in the New Year, we stood in darkness for a bit with lit candles, closing our eyes in prayer, a range of emotions flooding each mind, as the first day of the next year dawned. Yes, a new year, renewed hopes, promises for a better tomorrow and newer desires to be fulfilled, another chance at life.

However, that effect didn’t last long as my phone rang by evening the next day with the distressed call of a close friend losing her beloved child to an illness and fighting for some way to keep her alive.We lost her the day after.

But she was not the only person we’d mourned in the past couple of weeks. Over the past few days, as the calendars changed and the Christmas decorations came off to make way for another year, a few of my close ones lost their dear relatives as well- sudden, untimely departures- without much of an opportunity to say farewell. As  my heart went out to them as they mourned, I was reminded about this gift of life that God has given us- actually more like today. We have today. I don’t know about tomorrow. That’s the frailty of the life that we hold on to. It’s really not ours to keep.

And while we think about a new year and new resolutions( I’m not sure if people do that anymore!) and new beginnings, let’s think about today. The today that you and I have is all that we’ve got. I’m not sure if I’ll have a tomorrow. But if you ask me, I think today is good enough to look around and tell your dear ones that you love them, to give your friend/ colleague a hug, to spend a little time with that junior of yours who looks a little overwhelmed, to reach out to that patient and just hold her hand for a while letting her know you care, to maybe finally forgive that person (who in your opinion should ideally be lynched), to make that phone call you’ve been postponing, to release a bit of ego and just smile – ‘cos actually you never know when you’ll get that opportunity again.

And though life is such a delicate affair, the Author of it all knows the exact number of days and moments right to the millisecond where I’m writing this and you’re working your way through these words. We can rest assured knowing He holds today!

So friend!, like they say in Latin ( and obviously we need translation)- Carpe Diem- Seize the day! Make it count. Live the blessing that is today.

Psalm 103:15-17 English Standard Version (ESV)

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
    he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.

L-O-V-E-D

I was walking down the hospital corridors the other day when it suddenly dawned on me that it is already December. As I saw the decorations fill the corridors and wards and the rice bulbs light up the streets in different colours , I realised with a damp feeling in my heart that it’s the ‘Christmas season’ as they call it and I wasn’t really feeling all that Christmasy , if you know what I mean!

The thing about these last couple of months of the year is that whether you like it or not, the lights come up, carols are heard all over the place, the wards are decorated, the streets are lit up and you’re part of many dinner parties and what not. It’s like you’re supposed to be happy and in full on celebration mode, and you’re not allowed to sulk regardless of whether the constitution of your country states that you have the freedom/right to feel whatever way you want or not. Its almost like the season forces itself on you, and all that joy ultimately rubs off.

So when a few of my friends decided to play this game of ‘Secret Santa'( trust me, we’re actually fully grown adults), wherein we secretly pass on small gifts on random days to the person you’ve picked by lot and finally one big gift on the day of  revelation, it got me thinking. Thinking in terms of what is all this hullabaloo about? What are we really supposed to be giving in this so called season of ‘giving and forgiving’? And these thoughts took me all the way to that tiny meagre stable where baby Jesus was born. Basically an amazing occurrence when God decided to forgo all that Majesty and glory and become a tiny baby, born in the dirtiest and lowliest of all circumstances,to grow up like a normal human being with all the difficulties thereof attached and ultimately die a cruel gory death on a cross- for what? For the love of you and me! Now that’s downright crazy, isn’t it?

Say what? you ask me- yeah! That’s exactly what I said. He did all that because He loved you and me too much to let us rot in our helplessness and our sins. So He became the sacrifice, the Lamb that was slain.

How amazing is that love! Can you imagine someone laying down their life for you? So that you will  have eternal life?

Well yeah, that’s what the story is all about and this season is a celebration of that Love- not because we know the exact date or month that Jesus was born , nor do we know whether it was cold or hot at the time, but we know He came, for you, for me. And that’s how much you’re loved, that’s how much I am loved- like L-O-V-E-D ( all in capital letters)!

So in the midst of this crazy schedule of mine , following duty rosters, and skipping meals, working odd hours and sleeping off on top of my laptop trying to complete work against deadlines, God nudged me gently the other day as I looked around ( almost apeing Scrooge saying- Bah, humbug!) saying- Remember how much you’re loved, child. And that’s what I get to give to others as well- love- crazy, unconditional, unfailing and unending- exactly as the Father loves me.

And even as you unwrap your surprise gifts and run around hanging up lights and confetti  these days, or you’re still carrying bleeps and attending calls and saving lives even on Christmas day, take that one moment to pause and remember that you are               L-O-V-E-D- by your Maker, in ways more than one and so much that you cannot even imagine or fathom it. And that’s exactly what you get to pass on.

Merry Christmas!!

John 3:16  (NIV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Run wild

I couldn’t sleep last night- for the last couple of nights actually….tossed and turned, tossed and turned again till I knew that I had to get to my knees to listen to the One who gives sleep, ‘cos he evidently had something to say.

Growing up in a culture of rich traditions and extremely conventional ways, we are usually expected , as we grow up, to conform to a particular way of being-  if we’re growing up in a particular locality, we  go to a particular school, we usually end up following the very same footsteps of other older ‘daddy’s friend’s kids’, we may attend the same college for undergrad, we mostly even play the same kind of sports most other campus kids play and learn the same musical instruments as well and so on and so forth- so if your parents are teachers, it’s only right that you become a teacher, if your parents are doctors, even if you faint at the sight of blood, you’re still becoming a doctor and things like that. The same can be applied on a broader spectrum to cultures and customs that we are taught to follow, whether we agree to them or not.  “All girls should be married off by 26 years of age”;  “you shouldn’t be waiting so long to get into a PG”; Settle down baba, that is what we expect of you”…. and so on and so forth.( I’m sure you’ve already quoted your own personal favourites in your head as you read this).

And any deviation from the norm, and you’re deemed a wild child- why does he/she want to do anything different? What’s wrong with her? He wants to work in rural places! Is he mad? She’s pursuing singing! Is music even a career?!

So, wild child reading this, when was the last time you burned to do something different, make an unconventional choice , and then held yourself back and decided to forget it altogether because society might not agree?

Those were pretty much the lines along which I was thinking as I lay awake.  From the day I chose to follow Jesus, my journey has been unconventional, a roller coaster ride. But somewhere down the line, I had started ‘maturing’- in terms of weighing the will of God against what would the society (that includes my parents, friends, colleagues and the random aunty who walks into your house to give an opinion about how you should live your life) think and were hesitating to pick up that cross and follow.

And that night..I was led to look through the Bible- and what I saw was a whole bunch of ‘losers’ that God used for His glory- unconventional people who made crazy crazy choices, simply because He asked them to. You’ll see it as well- all the way from an old man who decided to build a huge ark even when he’d never seen rain in his entire lifetime, to another madman who left his entire lifetime of savings and his hometown behind to go to a land he’d never seen, known or heard of before, from the shepherd boy who thought he could bring down a giant with a pebble, to the well educated respected Jewish dude who decided to leave all that behind to preach the good news to a people whom his society would’ve considered outcasts , its there all through the Bible- every single one of them- did absolutely mind boggling crazy things, they were wild, but they loved strong and they lived a full life.

So the question that He laid upon my heart that night was- Do you want to be safe, or do you want to follow Me?

Well that struck home- and I was reminded of a verse from the  Chronicles of Narnia

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

And as for me, I choose to follow the King.  As the words of one of my favourite songs go, and  I ask you too:

‘ Don’t you want to
Run wild, live free
Love strong, ‘ (For King and Country)

Stony griefs

Familiar term?

There are some moments in our lives or rather some instances in our lives that leave us numb with pain- like we can’t feel anything ‘cos its too painful to think of or too hard to take- stony griefs.

I was feeling like this a couple of days ago- a feeling of being numb , like you’ve been through the worst or are going through the worst and your heart has just turned to stone. And today I was standing in the Chapel and singing this song along with the choir- ‘Out of my stony griefs, Bethel I’ll raise'( Nearer my God to Thee, Sarah Flower Adams), when that phrase hit me like a boulder to say the least. Its a hymn any regular church going Christian would know and would have sung  atleast  a zillion times in a lifetime, to say the least. So I could close my eyes and sing this song without having to look at the hymn book, I’ve sung this song and heard it so many times but those few words startled me today.

Here I was , standing in a place of worship and telling the God of the universe, how to go about His job of looking after me, and how disappointed I’ve been feeling recently with the way He’s doing it, and the songwriter says- Out of her stony griefs, she’ll raise Bethel’.

Ain’t that easy brother!  Most of us just get bitter with the pain, the betrayal or the unfairness of life.  Then what is she talking about?

Bethel in Hebrew means the ‘ house of God’. So essentially, when your ship is sinking, when the darkness closes in, when you feel betrayed by life, when the tears are flowing endlessly and when the pain is so intense, your insides have turned to stone- raise up the House of God in your heart – worship Him. Your deliverance is coming through. And that’s what I carried back with me after unloading all the weight at the altar, that our victory lies in raising up the house of God in whatever situation we are in right now  and worship, lift your hands and heart and just worship- he’s nearer than you can imagine.

 

And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of His Hand. ( On Eagle’s wings, Josh Groban)

Most times it is difficult to imagine worshiping during the storm- but I guess that’s what we’re called to do, ‘cos He’s got it under control.

Home

Screenshot_20180924-210546.jpgAll of us are born with this yearning for ‘home ‘. Sometimes we spend a lifetime trying to figure out where this is.

Recently, as I walked into the isolation room of the paediatric ICU, I met the smiling face of 4 year old Akhil. Akhil had just been diagnosed a few weeks back with a bad form of blood cancer.  Nothing more to be done.  He was just being given palliative care, meaning support him till he succumbs.  Well, he certainly didn’t look it as I walked in to collect his history and get all his details. He first gave me that ‘Can you be trusted?’ look and then when he’d decided I can be taken into his confidence,  he smiled with a twinkle in his eye. Suddenly the chaos of the PICU outside the isolation room didn’t matter anymore.  I sat down beside him,  and asked him the most basic question..Hey,  how are you?
The smile didn’t cease as he replied,’ I’m good. I have cancer. But I’m going  home.’
That statement was a little too much for my sleep deprived mind to process..my mind be like ” wait.. did he just tell me his prognosis as well? Or did he just say he wants a DAMA( discharge against medical advice)?”
So I ask him like I’m the 4 year old and he’s the boss..’ Home is where , da?’ So he places his small hand in mine,  and looks at me like I’ve a long way to go to reach his level of understanding, and says ” see chechi( read elder sister), it’s okay if you can’t treat me, ‘cos I’ll be home in heaven with Jesus. That’s where I actually came from.  Will you pray with me today?”
As I held his hand and prayed with little Akhil in the PICU that night, I realised the truth in what Jesus said,  Unless you become like little children, you will not enter the Kingdom of God.
Wisdom doesn’t necessarily belong with the grey haired.

Born in one country, brought up in another and then finding my vocation in a different state among a different culture and people, if you ask me where’s home? I’ll take some time to answer that one. But homesickness does strike quite often , and the yearning to belong as well.
So on one of those homesick days , I decided to go ” home”, as in the place my parents live in. Guess what – ‘homesickness’  didn’t go away. Went and spent some time with my closest friends- no luck there either. Finally, after I’d exhausted the available options, I got down on my knees to spend some time with the Maker. Needless to say, it wasn’t a long time before I felt home.

That day I realised what Akhil told me- home is not in the mountains or by the seaside; it’s not even where family is or where your entire lifetime was spent; it’s not in the arms of your lover or with your closest friends- it’s where your God is. In His presence, there you’re best at home. Home’s heaven. And that’s what our hearts ache for. And  this lifetime is the journey towards.
And that was little Akhil’s hope and joy.
My home is heaven.  I’m just travelling through this world ‘ Billy Graham.

When the oceans rise…

We are human beings  – we empathise, we sympathise and especially those of us who’ve been around in the world long enough, we also know the right words to say when disaster strikes somewhere, when things go wrong with someone or someplace. We are taught to click our tongues at just the right moments, speak passionate words at just the right places and maybe look at the TV screens with just the right expressions- the expression of dismay, of seeming sadness for the loss of someone we’re watching from a distance.

But when the storms hit homeground, then the story changes right? Then we find ourselves reeling in a mixture of emotions and motions we never knew we were capable of before.

When the rains started flooding the state I come from,  I did the appropriate clicking of my tongue, ‘lets pray for the places worst affected’ speech, sympathised and empathised- just appropriately, like we’ve all learnt to do. But when my home got flooded, when I couldn’t contact my parents for a whole day straight, when the waters started rising steadily at home and my folks were forced to move out, then reality struck. I could feel my father’s pain at having to leave the home at the mercy of the angry waters. It was not just the furniture or the documents in the house he was pained to leave behind, it was the home we had, the memories we’d shared there, a lifetime of hard earned comfort, all our old books, albums, pictures- everything that made a home a home, a lifetime that we’d shared and treasured and so preciously kept together. I couldn’t just shake my head at the television screen and exclaim’ How sad!’ anymore. I was just struck by the enormosity of the losses that we would be enduring if the rains continued the way they did.

It was real. It was right there. And it had struck home.

And that’s when I truly captured a very very small part of what those fellow countrymen would be going through, with their very houses washed away, near and dear ones missing, no place to go to, no idea how long this would last and holding on to dear life.

As the rains have started to cease and as the waters recede, I’ve come to  realise that no amount of funds, spare clothes, medicines or relief camps can provide much relief. What they’ve lost is so much more than what any of us can even begin to comprehend. So as we extend our helping hands, lets also ask God to comfort the flood-whelmed brethren because only the God of all comfort can provide that peace that passes all understanding.

I share with you a verse from a song I love dearly that held my heart as  anxiety overwhelmed me:

“When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father you are king over the flood
I will be still and know you are God”

(Still- Hillsong worship)

Isaiah 43:2 New King James Version (NKJV)
 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.

#floodskerala2018

Closer than a brother

There’s a strange verse in the Bible that goes “..but there’s a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (proverbs 18:24). Yeah!

There was one day that I’d come back from work feeling exhausted- mentally and physically. A lot of  happenings from the recent past weighing down on me and the uncertainty of the future hovering over my head like a dark cloud. I opened the door to my room, switched on the light , and lo! the room lit up with very pretty string lights and a huge colourful handmade poster on the wall that had the lyrics of one of my favourite songs that read ‘ Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes’ . My eyes welled up and suddenly whatever weighed me down wasn’t so heavy anymore. I just stood there smiling and crying at the same time. That was the handiwork of a ‘friend who sticks closer than a brother’. She knew I needed some brightness in my life at that moment.

 

As a child I’ve read that verse so many times and wondered if I’d ever find a friend who sticks closer than a sibling, was the guy who wrote that entire book of Proverbs sure about what he was writing? Is that even possible?

Growing up with two siblings who’re quite close age wise , it’s difficult to imagine that kind of a situation. I always thought I’d have them forever no matter what, so there’s no place for this  ‘ friend who sticks closer than a brother’ right? I mean why would you need them? Where do they fit in?

But yeah then life ,as we call it, happened- then we went to boarding schools, we went to college and we’re working in different countries and continents. And then these people happen to you- the kind of people you can just look at in the eye and burst out laughing together, the kind of people who’ll eat the rest of your food if you’re not fast enough, who might just squeeze into your bed with you even though you’re really not considering accommodating them at the moment. They’re the ones you run to or call up when  you want to vent, who you’ll know will always lend a shoulder even if they’re bony and not so comfortable, the ones who’ll sing to whatever you strum on the guitar even if it is not tuned and then criticize you for it. Those are the ‘friends who stick closer than a brother’- the ones who’ll kill for you.

I’ve been blessed enough to have  a  few of those gems in my life as well, so close they make my biological siblings quite jealous I must say, and today when I looked at Whatsapp and people updating their statuses with pictures of their besties, and not so besties  and so on, I sat down for a bit in the middle of all the madness I’m regularly surrounded with, to just thank the Lord for the people in my life. The ones who totally make it worth the while. The ones I’d like to go all the way down this long journey of life with, the ones I can bug for eternity and not have to apologize for it- the people who stick closer than brothers/sisters.

And there’s one thing I know for sure- the reason we stick so close together is only because of a greater love- the love of Christ. His love compels us and without Him there is no love. He sticks to us the closest, no matter what.

As we celebrate friendship day and week and whatever else they call it , lets all take that time to thank God for those few precious people in our lives- the ones we can just be ourselves with. And lets look to Him – the source of all Love.

The Growth Chart

Have you grown lately?

When you ask a supposedly ‘grown up’ adult in her late twenties that question, it strikes a nerve. It’s definitely a different reaction from when I ask the  mothers in my clinic if their babies have been growing well. They smile, I frowned. My first reaction was ‘Uhm, excuse me?!…(mind goes blank….)’.All I could think was ‘ Well, I’m growing older and maybe a little heavier!’

So I sat down and thought through this and that’s what got the wheels in my head running and hence the beginning of this blog.

Celebrating my birthday recently, and falling sick immediately after, forcing me to be off work for a bit, gave me some time to think about the eventful past one and a half years. From being super thrilled and excited about being able to pursue a postgraduation in a specialty that is quite close to my heart in one of the best medical colleges in the country along with my closest friends, I was pretty sure I was right where God really wanted me to be at that moment and nothing could possibly go wrong now. That was the peak of all ‘growth’ at that point for me according to close friends and family.

Well little did I know that the journey was going to be quite a roller coaster ride. Over the past year and a half, I’ve struggled with tuberculosis, an ankle sprain, a heartbreak and most recently a really bad eye infection that visually impaired me for atleast  two weeks straight. Six months of daily medication and struggling with nausea and weird appetite patterns, almost a week of complete immoblisation because of pain and swelling on my ankle and two weeks of a near blinding experience forcing me to stay in the darkness of my room and now you ask me ‘Have you grown lately?’

Mmmm..my folks would say these are the things that retard progress, that set you back, that weaken your faith. “Are you sure you’re on the right track? Is this what you really want?”

But as I ponder over it, I must say I’ve grown and there is scope for more growth.

‘ Really?? In terms of what ?’ You ask me.

In terms of faith and trust in a most Loving and benevolent God.In terms of complete surrender to His plans knowing He knows best. In all the pain and confusion, at that moment  when I coughed out blood and even though I’m a doctor the best I could do was collapse into tears because it freaked the life out of me, when I felt that physical pain in my chest because of a friend who carelessly broke my heart and I couldn’t sleep for nights together, during the times when I was literally disabled because I couldn’t see ,let alone open my eyes to look at light, I’ve felt the loving arms of the Lord around me, His providence and His very Presence.

So yes, I’ve grown lately- Grown to increasingly trust and love this God who’s my Maker, Grown to learn to completely surrender my times into His hands, Grown to let Him take the wheel and Grown to rejoice in the Lord no matter what my immediate situations look like and I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s definitely been painful, but I believe I’m a stronger person because now I’ve nothing to fall back on except Jesus who saved me and that’s more than enough. I’m still in the process of growing, there’s definitely scope for more and I for one can’t wait to witness it myself.

So while I thank you for enduring till the end of this little testimony, may I ask you to think about it- Have you grown lately? What do you think?