*The following was written by a dear sister in Christ and fellow CLDI intern and staff. She and her husband now live in Central Asia to give testimony to our great King. As I was moved and touched by this powerful writing, I am confident you will as well. Jesus, our great hope, even amidst seemingly dark times. – Eric
I’ve sat down to write this letter a dozen times this last month, and each time, despite the number of things there are to share, none seemed to make their way to paper. I went back and forth between stories of great adventure, or sharing about the time a language blunder made us the proud owners of four, overly chirpy parakeets. Well, for twenty four hours, that is. I tried, but I’m just really more of a dog person.
Both of these stories are real, opening up a window into our life and work in this place, and although we continue to find humor in our language mishaps, and joy in the ways God chooses to reveal His likeness through the people and beauty of this land, there are other realities that can be difficult to share at times. Things like insecurity, kidnappings, home invasion, human suffering, and the great loss of life that can result from one evil act brought about by a few hateful people. These things leave their mark, they wound a place deep within our souls, a place that is slow to heal, and oftentimes, just left hurting.
Since my husband Brad’s cancer diagnosis a year ago, I’ve been stumbling along trying to figure out what it means to love and follow Jesus well in the midst of grief, loss, and human suffering. Our move to war-torn Central Asia pushed me further along that road. When disease strikes the person you love, when a friend goes missing and their whereabouts are unknown, when the people around you have only known war, it’s as if what you know to be true of the character of God is painfully tested, and all the while He continues to call you deeper and deeper in. Then finally, when you think you’ve gained a bit of perspective, you’re interrupted by an explosive sound that reeks of chaos and terror, and instantly your heart is stopped by the insurmountable loss of life that seconds ago was well and good. Then, as a cloud of smoke and debris billows up into a once clear sky, an inaudible voice seems to say, “Darkness won.” And I get angry and find myself in a place of deep lament because right then and there, it feels that way.
It can be hard to know what to write home about. Some days it’s easier to give a list of facts, go on an adventure, or share about the time we woke up to parakeets on our front step. There is much goodness and joy to be had in these things, so write about them. But to say my heart hurts, to say I’m stumbling along, to share that invites you into a sacred place within my soul, and sometimes the thought of writing that down for people to read feels so…scary. Because I don’t have it all figured out, and I’m not as pulled together as I think I should be. But you know, maybe that’s ok. And maybe that’s just as worthy to be written about. Because I’m sure I’m not the only one stumbling along, trying to walk with Jesus well.
So, what does it mean to love and follow Him in the midst of grief, loss, and human suffering? And when it seems as though He continues to call you deeper and deeper into that place, what do we know of Him to be true? I don’t have all the answers, friends, and my commentary certainly won’t be coming out anytime soon, but as God has been inviting me into that place this last year, it hasn’t been without hope.
As I consider what I know to be true of God, I’m learning that just as we identify Him as a good Father and sovereign King, He can also be identified as, “a Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3).” And today, I find that a miraculous remedy to a heart that hurts. The knowledge that our King, the Holy One who sits upon the Throne, can not only identify with us in our grief, but He understands it in its fullness. Because He carried it with Him to the cross. He took its weight upon Himself. And when His hands and feet were being nailed, and the weight of the world collapsed upon Him, right then and there, Light won, and darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5).
So friends, thanks for walking alongside us, encouraging us, and if you’re stumbling along with me today, let’s take heart! Though today we don’t have all the answers, and it may seem as though darkness has gained more ground, we know it’s been shamed, Light won, and Jesus, our King and a Man of Sorrows, understands completely. And in that, great hope is to be had.