As we drive from home to home, to family to family, as I hear the stories of poverty, struggle and even death, there are so many questions that fill my thoughts.
Why? I know not to ask why. There is seldom an answer to the “why’s” in relation to suffering. But they still enter my mind.
Why this child?
Why this family?
Why them and not me?
Why does it need to be this way at all?
Why are there not more helpers??
God and I wrestle with the “why’s”. I am glad that He doesn’t tire of hearing my “why’s”. I am looking forward to the day when the why’s have answers.
Who are these people?
Who is this young mom with two children? What does she enjoy? What does she hope for? Does she worry about the same things I worry about? What makes her laugh?
Does she laugh?
Who is this grandmother? What has she overcome? Does she still have hope, or had she succumbed to her circumstances?
Who is this boy? Where does he find comfort? How does he keep himself warm at night? Does he have anyone to listen when he is happy? Sad? Excited? Does he have dreams?
Who are the men that will help these young boys find their way?
I want to ask these questions and yet I flounder desperately with the language. It is so frustrating to want to bridge these gaps and not have the words. I try to connect, to show love, to show respect however I can, but it all feels so inadequate. So I pray for each of them as I see them. I cannot help but believe that God sees each one of them individually just as He has seen me.
How can these cycles be broken?
How can we convince this mom that she has worth after she has suffered years of heinous abuse convincing her she is nothing?
How are these children living in these conditions and actually growing, actually developing??
How can we provide support without enabling?
How can we reach hearts and not just stomachs?
How can we alter the course of an entire system of injustice, blindness and inequality?
How can I be joyful after seeing such deep sadness?
This last question has plagued me for years. How can I go home after seeing so much pain and laugh with my kids? What gives me the right to be warm and well fed while others are freezing and starving? Surely I should feel guilt or somehow temper my joy.
The more suffering I see, the more I realize what a privilege it actually is to have joy. I believe the driving force behind joy is actually hope. And this world needs our hope. Those who are suffering need to see in us a hope for them, for their lives. They need to see that we absolutely believe that things can be different, that circumstances can be better. This world needs OUR joy. It is tempting to allow the darkness of the world to dim our hope, our joy, our light. But it cannot. It needs our light.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness…only light can do that”.
I have sooo many more questions in my mind. Every person, every situation, every brilliant- hungry-neglected child seems to bring a hundred more questions and only a few answers. Unanswered questions can bring with them the temptation of discouragement. However, discouragement does not bring progress, only paralysis. So I use my language in the best way I know how at the moment. I pray. I pray for strength, for wisdom, for insight and for victories for all of those who see the pain, for all of those who ask these questions, for all of those filled with hope that there can be progress.
And I ask alot of questions.
“The thought of my suffering and homelessness
is bitter beyond words.
I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this…
…no one is abandoned by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion
because of the greatness of his unfailing love.
For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.”
Lamentations 3:19-21, 31-33