Some days I feel brokenness so acutely. I think of people without parents, without homes, without Jesus, and I am broken. This morning I sit in my little cubicle in the corner of the giant office, and the world feels so big, and the problems that fill it feel impossible. Tears gently fall down my cheeks, and I am grateful that no one sees, and that everyone is busy doing their own work. I think of these things, and the heaviness feels like too much. But I know that I can’t let it paralyze me. It’s easy to feel small and powerless in a world filled with so much heartache, but luckily I serve and belong to a God that is bigger and more powerful than the greatest pain. In and of myself I may be powerless, but through Him I am powerful. Through Him, I can make a difference. Through Him, even the greatest and deepest hurt can be redeemed.
I go to a church in Lynchburg that is in one of the more “inner city” parts of town. I do this intentionally; my heart is for the people that live there. I used to go to visit one of the ladies that lived in the apartments next to the church. She had three kids, two girls and a boy. They lived in a loft apartment, and they slept on mattresses that lay on the floor. Sometimes I would get there and I could sense the mom had been drinking, and the baby had a dirty diaper, and the kitchen sink was overflowing with dishes, and my love for them grew. I would play with the kids, and take them for walks to the local corner store to get some candy, and hug them. I hugged them a lot. They don’t get to grow up in family like I did, with a mom and dad who love me, and provided above and beyond all my needs. Their life is going to be harder than mine was, and they have many more obstacles than I. So I question, why? Why did I get to be born into a safe place, and these kids did not? But then I am reminded that my God is a father to the fatherless. That He has not forgotten these precious children, they are indelibly inscribed on the palm of His hand. He has plans for their lives, plans to redeem them from where they are, because they are His, they belong to Him.
A little over a year ago I went to Zimbabwe. We stayed in a “suburb” which is the American equivalent of our inner city. We would walk throughout the neighborhood and see little kids playing in ditches in front of the house. They would watch us as we walked by, eyes glued, intrigued by the light color of our skin. We went to visit sponsored kids, and saw the poverty they were living in. It broke my heart. I wanted scoop them up and bring them home with me. We went to villages, and orphanages, and I carried babies with me and didn’t want to put them down. These kids had so little, but they had so much joy. They smiled all the time, and were so welcoming and loving. One little girl grabbed my hand and came with me everywhere I went. They loved our earrings, and sunglasses, and bracelets. They especially loved my tattoos. They ran their fingers over them, and kept saying “tattoo, tattoo!” My heart had never felt so full. To get to Bulawayo we first flew into South Africa, and as our guides showed us around we drove by the slums. The slums in America are palaces compared to the slums there. The “homes” were made of cardboard, and discarded pieces of tin. As we drove by this desolate scene, the heaviness within me grew. I knew it was only the beginning of what I would see during my stay. I saw brokenness, and joy. I saw need, and contentment. These polar opposites co-existed, within the same town, the same village, the same orphanage, and even within the same person. At the village that we went to, they spoke one of the native languages, and understood very little. I tried to say a few words to them in their language, but obviously wasn’t making any sense, because all they could do was laugh at me. But then we all started singing worship songs, at first they just stood there because they didn’t know the words. But then I started dancing, and they started joining in, and we were all laughing and having fun together, and though we couldn’t say one word to each other I knew we had become friends. In Africa I was reminded that God is an international God, we are all His beloved children, and it doesn’t matter where we live. I was also reminded of His love. Despite the poverty and brokenness I saw, above all that was life, and joy. I’ve never felt so loved by people that didn’t even really know me. In a place of darkness, the light was overcoming.
So on the days where it feels like darkness is winning, when the world feels too broken for repair, I remember that God is a father to the fatherless, and that no matter what is going on joy is always available to us. That I can make a difference. YOU can make a difference. Our world is broken, but Jesus came that we might have life, and have it abundantly. The world is broken, and He is the answer, He is the super hero. Only He can fix it. But we get to join Him in it. I want to join Him. Do you?