It seems that several lifetimes have passed for me in those fifteen years. At the time of 9/11, Bob knew he was to leave Calvin because of our decision to send our children to a closing public school, but he still had a couple of months left and had no idea of what he would do nor where our income would come from (I was making very little at Restorers). At that time, Africa was not even remotely in the picture. We of course had no idea that Bob had less than nine years to live. And while Michael Thomson was someone I knew from church, I would never have guessed that one day I would be married to him.
It was a year ago, on 9/11, that I was sitting at the airport in Chicago, on my way to Ghana, and I suddenly felt hit with the realization that I was on the edge of burnout. I fought (read "denied") it for three months before it completely overwhelmed and consumed me by early December, after which I spent two months in what felt like "the dark night of the soul."
And this past week, a dear sister in Christ buried her second son under the age of 21, and I found myself caught up in the throes of grief for her, and the realization of the on-going devastation of the grief of loss by many around us who suffer silently with memories, longings, and desires that things "could have been different." This suffering takes place through daily reminders, as insignificant as hearing a line that the loved one frequently used, to a significant event that the loved one is missing.
Suffering. Both loud and obvious, and silent and invisible.
In John 16:33, Jesus says, "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
A day at a time.
A moment at a time.
One step forward at a time.
Soon, fifteen years will pass and you will be amazed at what has changed.
You will see where it was that Christ entered in to give peace.
My prayer list continues to grow longer and longer. I suspect it will be that way until the day I am called home.
This prayer, from one of my favorite prayer books called Guerillas of Grace (by Ted Loder), reminds us that while we think there is too much suffering, we need to be reminded that it may because there is too little of something else:
Sometimes, Lord, it just seems to be too much: too much violence, too much fear; too much of demands and problems; too much of broken dreams and broken lives; too much of war and slums and dying; too much of greed and squishy fatness and the sounds of people devouring each other and the earth...
Sometimes the very air seems scorched by threats and rejection and decay until there is nothing but to inhale pain and exhale confusion.
Too much of darkness, Lord, too much of cruelty and selfishness and indifference...Too much, Lord, too much, too bloody, bruising, brain-washing much.
Or is it too little, too little of compassion, too little of courage, of daring, or persistence, of sacrifice; too little of music and laughter and celebration?
O God, make of me some nourishment for these starved times, some food for my brothers and sisters who are hungry for gladness and hope, that, being bread for them, I may also be fed and be full.And that is my prayer - "make of me some nourishment for these starved times." Come, Lord Jesus.