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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Susan Hanson

Saturday, December 18

And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.
—Luke 1:36-37

In his book Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World, author Tracy Kidder gives us a look into the life and work of an extraordinary physician—a man who doesn't understand that treating AIDS in a country like Haiti is an impossible task.

Against incredible odds—not just extreme poverty, but also an inhospitable landscape and a volatile political system—Harvard-trained infectious disease specialist Paul Farmer used his modest resources to establish the Clinique Bon Sauveur in the town of Cange. 

With this clinic as their base, teams of counselors fanned out through the mountainous countryside, distributing AIDS drugs and giving medical care to dozens of desperately ill patients. The tactic shouldn’t work, but it did.

“The subject of this book, Paul Farmer, came along at a time in my life when I was feeling more and more cynical about such global problems as AIDS,” Kidder said in an interview, “and then I met this man who seemed to be practicing more than he preached. He seemed to live without any hypocrisy, and he has a true belief that a small group of people really can help change the world.”

It’s easy to feel cynical these days. We’ve seen too many promises made and broken, too many dreams conceived and then destroyed. We want to believe that the world could be a better, more healthy and forgiving place, but then what we call reality settles in and stops us.

Elizabeth and her husband, Zechariah, knew something about reality. Well past the time when they could reasonably expect to become parents, they were stunned to discover that they indeed were going to have a child. 

Realistic? Not hardly. But in the place where heaven and earth intersect, the impossible routinely becomes the real.

O God, when my life becomes small and dry, renew in me a sense of the boundless possibility to be found in the imagination of the Divine.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2004.