Some days when I read the news, my heart aches. The individuals in the stories become alive to me- their pain, fear, hopelessness, anger. It overwhelms me.
Today is one of those days, as I think on those being terrorized in Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Iraq, Syria. For those who are experiencing the panic of untreatable illness in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ghana. For the courageous women testifying about the sexual violence they experienced during the conflict days in Colombia. Closer to home, another round of research released about the correlation between irresponsible extraction and abuse. And always, so near to my heart, the stories of those living over 20 years of war in Democratic Republic of Congo.
It seems like the earth is groaning with suffering, with abuse and hatred and greed. My heart groans with it.
In times like this, I often wonder God, where are you?
Some days the answer is like a balm to my heart, and I cling to those passages like a person clinging to a life raft. “He knows the way that I take; and when I have been tested I will come forth as gold.” (job 23:10)
And sometimes there are flashes of goodness in the world around me, that remind me that God uses us- imperfect though we are- to bring his Kingdom to earth. And when we obey, when we do those small things that could be overlooked, but really mean so much, He smiles.
The courageous and inspirational peace activist, Leymah Gbowee said it so well. About her visit to DRC in February of this year, where she spent time speaking to survivors of sexual violence and hearing their stories she noted, “through all of the stories of rape and sexual violence, there …was a beautiful middle line. That may sound impossible; the global narrative of DRC is that it is the rape capital of the world. I am not going to agree or disagree with this statement. But the authors of this statement failed to recognize the beautiful middle line of these women’s narratives; indeed, it takes trained ears to hear and identify with it. For too many of the women, each story started with “I was raped; I was in pain; I was upset and distraught…” But in the middle of their narrative, the beautiful is revealed: “…and then the women came; my sister came; my mother came; a women’s association heard and came…. They took me to a doctor; helped me with clothes; talked to me and then I regained strength… and now I am able to at least think about living again.” The beautiful line is how women, despite the pain and suffering, have an unshakeable sense of sisterhood and solidarity. Regardless of what the world calls DRC, I call it the “Capital of Sisterhood and Solidarity”.
Lets train our ears to the goodness, the beauty in the midst of the ashes- and continue to bring that beauty to those around us.
“but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” John 1:7