Listening to the heartbeat of Lebanon

After a year-and-a-half of inactivity, I pull my Littman Classic Stethoscope from its tucked away position to listen. I am delighted to at last be using my training, love, and gifting in this foreign land. I am not practicing nursing in Lebanon, but due to the circumstances I was able to assist a few neighbors who needed a little home support. However, I am not happy about the circumstances that have brought about this opportunity. Undoubtedly, it has affected your life also. Corona Virus.

The lungs I listen to are too quiet, meaning not enough air is flowing through them. That is true for Lebanon also. This nation is in a 3-week total lockdown, where passes must be obtained to drive anywhere. Supposedly, you are not allowed even to walk outside your home, but some people are. Our hospitals have peaked capacity. Friends who sat in emergency rooms with loved ones described the scenes that they witnessed as unbearable, as sick people…extremely sick people…would come and be turned away for lack of room. Anger. Desperation. Harsh words and hopelessness are all being experienced just a few miles from my home. Even humanitarian workers have been ordered to stop.

My stethoscope is telling me that something is desperately wrong with patients under my care. Miraculously, we procure much needed oxygen concentrators just in time. Not once, but twice. But sometimes our oxygen machines cannot deliver enough air and the needs are too critical for home care. Then hours of calling to find placement in a hospital are needed.  Sometimes a hospital will grant permission which then results in a large financial down payment and days of being cared for tucked away in the emergency room or worse, the hallway.

I do not even have to touch the country with my stethoscope to know that something is desperately wrong to the airflow and heartbeat of Lebanon. The airflow is unbearably not enough, as week after week, people cannot work and literally do not have the means to live. There are extra heart sounds audible to the practitioner, murmurs, that indicate a failing heart. This is displayed on the faces and body language of the people of this nation and expressed in hopelessness as I have never witnessed before. I cannot bare to think about all the people dying at home from lack of food, medical care, and hope.

Devastatingly, my first Corona “patient” died, after 12 days on a ventilator. He leaves behind two young adult children and his wife. He was deeply loved in Lebanon and on our little Middle East University campus. It has left a campus and many friends beyond, deeply shaken.  The family and I talked often of the big party we would have when he returned home. Now we will wait until heaven to have that meal. It will be a feast and a celebration that we will never forget.

If only lockdowns and oxygen would fix everything. If only breath would be restored, and heart beats made right. If only Corona virus would go away and become a distant memory to be written about only in history books. If only we could have more laborers in the Middle East to deliver messages of hope desperately needed.

I am honored that the physician I work under is not limited. He is full of wisdom, compassion, and His hand reaches out in mercy. He is gifted and understands the human heart and body beyond anyone I have ever met. Sometimes I wiggle under His orders when He chooses not to breath life into the people, I think He should. My pride and my humanness want to question His judgement and His decisions. Surely, He heard all my text messages, and audio voicemails that I sent Him about the critical need of our patients? I know He did. Yet He chooses differently, and I must trust Him if I am going to work for Him. I need to understand also, that His heart is pained at the death of each one.

Undoubtedly, a false physician is throwing around his power and deception in our country. He is angry and is wanting to cause as much devestation as possible. He creates disorder and chaos. He somehow orchestrated this virus in a way that family members would be seperate at death and no visiting rules would apply. I am inclined to throw my accusations at my lead physician, but the reality is I need to aim my anger at this false doctor.

So, I will continue to do my part, as small as it may be. Listening, encouraging, and clinging to hope amid a desperate nation and people. Trusting the Master Physician who leads me. And claiming this promise that He is near to those who have a broken heart and saves those who have a crushed spirit (Ps. 34:18). Will you join me in trusting this Healer? Jesus, is His name.

Very soon my stethoscope will return to its place on the shelf…but I will never forget what I have assessed in the last few weeks. As I hung my stethoscope on the tree for the photo I saw a word carved into the bark. The same word is etched upon my heart. CORONA.

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2 thoughts on “Listening to the heartbeat of Lebanon

  1. Dear Ruth, You wrote all the words going in my mind now. God sent you to me to strengthen me through this tough and hard time me and my children are passing through. We still question God many times, but we have to wait to get all the answers we want. I thank God for using you to save my life from corona. You weren’t scared to sit by my side and give me all what I needed from medication, prayers and love. You are an amazing nurse and friend. Words are not enough to thank you and appreciate all what you have done. May God bless you abundantly and yes may we all celebrate in heaven seeing our loved ones again🙏♥️


    1. What an honor to find you here Ebtissam. It was my honor and privilege to walk with you during this time. I can’t wait to celebrate with you and Refaat, one day. Until then, may the Lord continue to strengthen you, one day at a time. 💜


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