Don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him. But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life. Heb. 10:35-39
Sometimes experiences have such a profound effect that it’s difficult to put them into words. At least, it’s difficult to put them into words that are adequate. That’s where I’m sitting this side of Uganda.
Sure, jet lag probably has something to do with it. I’m still waking up at 3:30 am, and yawning my way through each day (which is awesomtastic, btw – more on that tomorrow). At this point, putting together any string of coherent thought is sort of a chore…………. like just now, I’m pretty sure I dozed off in the middle of that last sentence. But my pensive mood is far more a result of fresh memories of a torrent of new sights and sounds than a lack of sleep.
There were funny things (yay for List Wednesday!) There were joyful things. If you saw the video I posted on Facebook, you saw some of that – broad smiles on the faces of people who have so little; life and celebration in the feet of those who walk farther and work harder than mine ever have. But there were heartbreaking things, too. Not everyone wore those smiles. I will never forget the woman, whose name I don’t know, who came early on the second day of the women’s conference in Fort Portal, and stood looking up at me with sorrowful, pleading eyes. She was the most forlorn figure I have ever encountered, and we could not speak a word because no translator was nearby. We didn’t have to.
There was the woman who, after hearing the story of Sarai and Hagar (Gen. 16), asked, “If your husband’s mistress is living in your home, should you demand that she leave?” and, “Is it possible to forgive if she is still living there, and he goes back and forth between bedrooms?” There were the other 100+ women at the conference who also related to Sarai and wanted answers to those same questions.
There was the baby who was abandoned and delivered to the Babies’ Home the very same day we visited there. And all the other children who lived at that orphanage, as well.
There was the little girl, near death with pneumonia, whose mom dragged her to the free clinic to see the doctor on our team. But the little girl didn’t stand in that long line because she was sick. The mom, oblivious to her daughter’s condition, and completely unconcerned, made it to the front of the line and only wanted the doctor to fix her own sore ankle.
Life is painful and hard. It’s not a truth unique to a third world country. The circumstances may look a little different, but we’re all walking the same sin-cursed earth. It’s true whether your life is in a remote village in Africa or in a suburb of a metropolitan city like Denver, Colorado.
Some people look at things like Uganda and Aurora, Colorado, and blame God. Paul wrote in Hebrews that we should find comfort in Him, instead. Sin guarantees that life on earth will remain painful and hard. Jesus’ death and resurrection guarantees that life on earth is not the end of the story. I don’t know all the answers to “Why?” about suffering in the world. But I know that Jesus is coming back, and those who live by faith in Him don’t face any of it without hope. You don’t have to get on a plane and go to Africa to know that life is hard. But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed; we are those who have faith and obtain life – and that’s something worth smiling about.