I watch the evening shadows stretch long as day disrobes of her light. Soon my 104 children will be pounding out ear-jarring rhythms, dust clouds mingling with prayers, both rising. Incense from a war torn patch of earth. But tonight, I am not with them.
I have gone out to get the mail, check our family bank account and run errands. A trip to the post office means a trip to a neighboring country for me. We don’t have a postal system where I live or even electricity for that matter. Motherhood in South Sudan. I am amazed at what has become my normal.
The shadows lengthen. I still can’t believe the news that met my arrival here. Some weeks, I don’t understand life at all.
Running errands, I ran into the unthinkable.
“Ruth is gone.” Flat, her voice sounded flat, with a wobble at the end. I stared blankly at my friend in the market.
“What?” Comprehension hit. Hard-fisted reality threw a right hook into my gut.
“Ruth, my friend Ruth? Young ,vibrant, full–of-life Ruth, with education and her whole future gleaming ahead… that Ruth?!?!
What? How? Impossible!”
“She got malaria,” the feeble explanation came.
“But that’s treatable. Why didn’t they treat it?”
Some days I don’t understand life at all.
Sitting here fingers pounding out heartbeats on keys, my insides cringe with yet another loss. I have buried more friends, more children in five years in Africa than a lifetime before. Azeezah, Joy, Patrick, Isaiah, Banja, now Ruth.
Grief’s fingers press hard into my heart. I now have a choice. Will I press even harder into Him? Into His heart, into His goodness no matter what my eyes see? Or will I agree with questions that throw shadows on who He is? It is always a choice. Doubt is always a choice. What will I do with my pain? Will I let it chase me into His embrace?
I rise and look, Beautiful Jesus bold in the face and again make a relentless stand.
Dig my heels in. I will not ever deny His goodness… ever.
I look Him eye to eye and say, “YOU ARE GOOD. Period.”
No loss, no difficulty, not the absence of my left leg and hip from birth, not 23 surgeries by age 13, not rebel attacks down the road, not hardship, not malaria, not misunderstanding, not the death of Ruth. Nothing will make me relent.
We live in a fallen world and there is much I don’t know. But this I do know: God is good, all the time. Bad things, terrible things happen that do not come from Him: loss, sickness, abuse. But there is no pain so deep that He is not deeper still. There is no problem so big, that He is not bigger. There is no loss so great, He cannot utterly restore it a thousand fold.
But the question tonight still remains. What will I do with my pain?
I do the only thing I know. I give it to Him as an offering. And I lean into mystery, into that which I don’t understand, even when my heart screams. I know when the dawn leaks her first rays over the horizon: a mystery embraced in the night is a doorway to majesty encountered in the morning.
Meanwhile tonight when I can’t see, I will rest in the arms of One who can. And tomorrow I will bring home the mail and groceries to my 104 children in Sudan.
by Michele, From the Unpaved RoadLeave a Comment