“And [Elijah] put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood and said, ‘Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.’ And he said, ‘Do it a second time’ And they did it a second time. And he said,
‘Do it the third time.’ And they did it the third time” (1 Kings 18:33–34).
Wu Fafang, who is from the Buyi tribe, has a large tumor of the cerebellum that is advanced because of a disease that has infested the hospitals in the counties all over this region. He has had the tumor for four months. He came to the clinic just two weeks ago because one of my dearest Buyi friends asked me to see a relative with headaches.
Two days later, Wu Fafang receives a shunt to relieve the pressure on his brain while we carefully plan the surgery.
Two weeks pass.
We now have spent twenty thousand RMB ($2,500), but have not performed surgery. During a recent trip, I am told by phone that the surgeons are asking fifty thousand RMB (my original fear) to do the surgery.
What about the woman with cancer whom I just brought back from the countryside? I wonder. Chemo, radiation, surgeries, nutritional support, more CT scans… In the meantime I receive a request to see a child who is well-functioning but whose head is swelling from hydrocephalus at seven months. He will need immediate attention to halt the progress of the disease.
Fifteen to twenty thousand RMB shall be the likely price the surgeon quotes me. Can I trust him? All these patients with their symptoms and tragic mistreatment in hospitals or by relatives run through my mind as I ride in a van winding through Kunming’s roads one night. Money is the biggest factor in their recovery.
Yet God has provided. We have not refused people because we needed more funds. Despite this, I am inclined to count the cost. I fear when I should not. Caring for people is tainted with an impersonal side that involves a real currency.
Still the cost must be counted. As the farmer looks to the skies for rain, so we look to the flow of resources. I often wonder how many times Elijah had seen God answer him before he was bold enough to stand before the prophets of Baal.
Pour on the water! Our God answers!
Where is this kind of faith in me? As believers we count the cost of building the castle. The Lord asks us to go forth into a world and at the same time says, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18).
So it is telling that I grow weary of counting costs. I fear costs. People fear costs. Period. It is natural to mankind. Yet it should be less and less natural for a child of God. The Cost has been paid. Jesus has borne the Cross of condemnation. Any other cost is light by comparison.
Still we loathe estimating the burden.
It is telling as well that I pray for rain and walk out without an umbrella.
Doug Briggs, M.D. (attended DTS 1990–1993), serves with his wife Michaele (MA/CM, 1991) and their three children in Southeast Asia. Read this article in its entirety at www.dts.edu/ks.