I witness heartache regularly. We all do. Hearing stories in the office of reality from the lips of the broken who are searching to be put back together. Recently returning from countries of war, rampage, and brutality. Whether here or there – pain still breaks the heart. I sit back and I watch us sometimes: as a people, as a nation, as a culture, and I wonder. I often talk about what I SAW IN Africa and then what I LEARNED FROM Africa. What I learned far outweighs what I saw.
Robert. The only African man I have ever heard talk with a lisp : ) He is now a safari tour guide – but life was not always this grand. Out of 7 of his siblings – he was one of four living. At night, Robert said his mother would take off her dress and lay it on the floor for her children to use as a bed-mat. After just returning from Sudan and seeing natural poverty, having flashes of the pictures the Lietnom children drew of their burning huts, men with guns, and dead bodies, and not even yet having experienced the horrific stories of Northern Ugandan’s children at that point – I said this.
“Robert, in America – if we had experienced such hardship we might blame God – even be angry at him. But in Africa….I rarely hear anger toward God. I rarely hear of African’s blaming him for allowing such heartache to happen. Why do you think that is?” I could barely get the sentence out before he replied in his sweet lisped African dialect..
“Ooooooooh Noooooooo – How could we blame God when he is the one who helps us? He is the reason we are living, the reason we are breathing. When we are harmed, it is because man has harmed us. Not God. “ And I thought, is it really so hard to understand? Yes. But we can give it a try : ) God is love. Life is hard. Really hard at times. Man causes pain and is pained. The Enemy grins. Christ redeems so we can have a hope of a forever without heartache. So who is it that we should be mad at again? I have learned this: In America we have a God of “give me.” In Africa they have a God of “hold me.” In Congo it was a broken desperateness that I have found nowhere else. Yet,it is the same God.
Funny, we often shake our fist at a God who is dodging our flailing arms in attempts to wipe our tears away. Fighting the very one who is trying to hold us. I wonder if we are we putting the wrong person on the judgment seat. And to go further – should there even be one. As we sit in our cushioned chairs of finger-pointing, we forget that Human Life is about Living, and Living is about Love and Un-Love and Hurting and Happiness and well…..sometimes – crap. Can I just say crap? Just the crappiness of life. Traffic. Fallen Economies. Cancer. Three year olds running out in the street because they are three. Unfortunate Circumstances in a Fallen World that is nobody’s “fault.” It just…..IS. And all the fingerpointing in the world won’t make it any less existent. Is he “big enough to handle it?” Are you kidding? He created the handle ; ) It’s not him that we are necessarily hurting. At least not as much as we are hurting ourselves. Shooting yourself in the foot takes on a different meaning when the bitterness creates a distance from the very One who gave you the ability to walk.
When we credit God for God things: Life, Love, Renewal, Hope. And we credit Man for Man things: Abuse, Killing, Crimes against humanity, Betrayal, Thoughtlessness…..then it frees us up from distancing ourselves from the Creator who gave us life. Does he allow it to happen? Yes. Does he Like it? He loathes it. The tears our hearts cry can’t hold a bucket to his. Where is he in our pain? Where is he when we are crying in our beds at night while everyone sleeps? During those moments where we think it can’t get any worse – and then it does?
Where is he? Look down and squeeze your hand. If you open your heart wide enough…..you just may feel him holding it.