My heart has been so heavy lately, for two things that I know have been all over the news.
For the people of Haiti and the region where I have Haitian friends, Haitian families and pastors that have been impacted by the earthquake and heavy rain. For the families whose houses were devastated and now have nowhere to take shelter. For the ones grieving with loss. I know this region. I have been there, multiple times. I have driven the streets of Jeremie, and seen the buildings that now are split in two. I have crossed the river that must be swollen with rain, walked the muddy streets. In many ways I feel utterly helpless.
My prayers have been that the schools New Life for Haiti built, the organization I traveled with, would be a shelter from the storm, that the people would be there for each other – helping – not selfish, and that the small but resilient body of Christ would be his hands and feet with the little they have to take care of them. I know that when things like this happen, there is a mad rush for tarps for makeshift shelters and rice and beans so that people can simple eat. My prayer is that those that know God and put their hope in him would BE the light and hope for their fellow villagers, even in the midst of their own pain. Not because they can fix things or have endless resources, but because they can love them and walk with them in the devastation, because they can cry with them and bring their tears to God.
My heart has also been heavy for the women of Afghanistan as I read stories of them rushing to get birkhas and the fear they are now headed into. Fear of losing freedoms they had enjoyed like working and education and freedom to go wherever they wanted. Stories of wondering how they will even feed their families, if they are not allowed out without the presence of a male in their family, yet they are widows so what will they do?
Reuters has a beautiful picture library of many of these women – police officers, university graduates, TV reporters, soldiers. There are women on a robotics team, engineers working to restore a temple, musicians practicing for a concert, cyclists. All free. I cannot even begin to imagine what it will be like for them if all this is taken away.
It is not right
It is not good at all, and we all know this don’t we?
The Taliban is telling the world that they want peace, that they will not rule militantly, but we have yet to see if they really mean it. So much of me wants to cry EVIL!!! for that is what I see on the TV and read about on any news channel, no matter what their slant. But even these men are human. As a follower of Jesus that tries to take his call to love enemies and pray for those who persecute – I struggle to have compassion, to say as Jesus “Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing”. I want justice. I want to set it right, to fix it…. but I can’t.
… and so I will see and I will hear, thousands of miles away.
And I will never stop praying for change
My reading this morning was from Psalm 142. How perfectly timed.
“Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned or me. I have no refuge, no one cares for my life.”
It never ceases to amaze me how clearly the psalmists from thousands of years ago express the cry of the human heart. Yet they do it believing there is a God who hears, and does not sit idly without feeling.
And so I say to my fellow Haitians, I grieve with you for the loss of your home, your hungry bellies. The hardship of how to move forward, yet again. I see you, and you are not alone.
I say to the women of Afghanistan my sisters and all those who are fearful and grieving – I see you, you are NOT alone. I mourn for your freedoms lost, and we are praying for change to come again.
We will not stop
The rest of the psalm is a perfect prayer to start this day (slightly tweaked):
I am crying out to you, the God of all the Heavens – can you help those that are grieving find you as a refuge somehow? I have no idea how, but please. They need you.
Will you be their portion in their village, in the midst of those around them also struggling? They are still alive, even if they feel dead, and you are the living God! Keep them alive! Keep their hope alive!
Hear their cries, for you see and you know they are in desperate need; rescue them from the ones who pursue them to steal and take what is not theirs, to arrest and condemn when they have done nothing wrong.
You know those that would be their accusers are too strong for them
Set them free from what feels like a prison, that their voices will rise and thank you
Show your goodness to them in the smallest of ways, through people around them, through your creation, through your quiet voice and whisper in the night, that they will know you see them.