Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lives that Fill a Book

We are a little isolated here in Rehoboth, somewhat intentionally. Internet is expensive (unless you are willing to succumb to insanity- which I sometimes do), and we don’t have a TV. So, aside from the occasional newspaper, we don’t have many sources for news of the world.

When you are away from everything you know, it is so easy to become distracted, to focus on “there” instead of concentrating on what needs to be done “here.” We know God brought us here for a reason, and that we need to be fully present wherever it is that He puts us, and in whatever task He sets before us. For me, at least, avoiding distractions is key.

So imagine my SHOCK when I read a friend’s blog post that mentioned the earthquake in Haiti. I did a little research, and one of the first things that came up on my search was that as many as 100,000 people are presumed dead- can you imagine such a number?

Lately, God has been really convicting me about the importance of people and relationships, about the power of one. As a task-oriented person by nature, I often need this little reminder. While I have been mulling over how we will explain our time and work in Africa to our supporters and loved ones when we return, He has shown me more of Himself, of His ways. I am very detail oriented, and I love to keep track of facts and numbers and statistics, and no doubt these will play a role in our presentations and conversations. But God has shown me that, to Him, it’s not about the numbers, but about the lasting impact. If 37 people make a “decision for Jesus,” but are then never discipled and taught how to have a relationship with Him, where is the eternal value? If 432 kids come to a camp, but no one takes the time to pour into the lives of individuals, how does that bring them closer to Jesus? However, if even one life is truly changed, heaven celebrates. God loves each person THAT much. To know His opinion on the power of one individual, we only have to look at the life of His Son. Because all of this, the faith that is true and the ability to have a relationship with the Creator of the universe? It started with a baby boy.

I say all this to emphasize one point- it is not a mass of 100,000 people that may have died in Haiti. It is 100,000 individuals, real people with kids and struggles and anxieties and dreams. Give or take (depending on font, spacing, etc.) there are between 2,622 and 3,818 characters in one typed page (according to Wiki Answers). Even if we went with the high end of that estimation, it would take more than 26 pages to type just one character per person estimated dead as a result of the earthquake in Haiti. But honestly, shouldn’t each person get at least one word? There are around 500 words per page (single-spaced), so it would take 200 pages to right just one word for each person- that’s a book! I tell you these facts because I need quantification, to have a representation in terms I can just begin to understand. The magnitude is staggering. Every one of those words represents an entire biography.

While living in Africa, I have witnessed oppressive poverty and suffering. One of my most fervent prayers has been that God would not allow my heart to grow calloused to the pain around me. It is so easy to adapt, to think of it as normal. God has blessed me with the ability to hurt for others here, to feel compassion, to have the motivation to act and to love. At times my heart just feels raw from emotion, almost painful…but that’s what it takes to really care…The reality is that we need to care for the poor in all times, not just when there is a crisis that makes the 6:00 news. How many times have I turned a blind eye to the suffering of others???

And then to see yet more pain- I couldn’t help but just cry, and cry out to God- Why? I will never understand tragedy like this; I will never understand how it glorifies Him. I imagine many people are asking the same question, and wondering how a loving God can allow this kind of suffering. I don’t know. But, I am reminded that His thoughts are higher than mine, from a verse that I have very much come to rely on this year:

“ “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher that your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” ”- Isaiah 55:8-9

It is such a comfort to me to know that I don’t have to understand it, that I don’t have to be able to explain it all. To believe Him, to trust Him- it’s enough.


Kelly @ Love Well said...

Amen Nicole. Without God, I would be lost in a sea of despair.

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