“And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” –Genesis 1:31
Have you ever cried, sobbed rather, at how fallen humanity is? Today I did, for the first time. I saw a lot today and this week, and at the end of the day all I could do is curl up in bed and cry. We have fallen so far. God had perfect harmony and a plentiful world in store for us, and we lost it. We really, really lost it.
Let me back track a bit, so you understand where I’m coming from....This week, I found out several of my students are HIV+. I saw more and more often my babies without lunches. I was informed that the reason you can never hear Thabile when she’s trying to talk is because she’s verbally abused at home. I had a conversation with a teacher about another one of my students (who is 8 years old, by the way) who was recently informed of this little girl’s sexual attempts with other students. This same little girl who has severe anger issues, and who spends 3 hours after school every day alone with a security guard while she waits for her mom. (all things pointing towards sexual abuse) This morning at the children’s home, I heard stories from teenage girls about how they ended up there, either from the loss of their parents or some form of abuse. I heard them say that several of them had been raped. Today, I was reminded of what several of my students’ lives are like as I drove through the squatter huts. Metal, cardboard and wooden slabs stuck together to form one little room that an entire family lives in, 2 rooms if they’re lucky. The “better-off” ones from this area live in government built houses, which are the same size as the huts, just built with cinder block. Thousands of these tiny “houses” clumped together for as far as the eye can see, amidst mud and garbage. Also today, at a Zulu pre-wedding ceremony, I saw people, who are “created in God’s image” be consumed with alcohol. I heard them change the words of a worship song from church so that the song praises alcohol, not God. I watched vulgar, drunk men lose control. As I sat there, I just wanted to cry. Not because I was scared, but because my heart HURT for their brokenness. For the peace they are lacking. How did things come down to this? And my heart didn’t just fall apart for those people’s brokenness, it crumbled even more on the drive back to where I’m staying, when I saw the shift from the Zulu huts to the British-like middle class homes. These people, who are “better” because they have more ‘self-control’ and ‘dignity’. Who just can’t shake off their pride, and so they live their comfortable, separate lives, as if there aren’t people in desperate need right down the road.
I was miserable as I looked out and thought, how could the world be this way? How can all these evil things be happening? How can there be mud huts and secured, multi-bath and bedroom homes within just a few miles of each other? I just couldn’t digest it all. When I crawled into my bed and let out my frustration, all my thoughts led to this: how in the world could God actually love us? How could Jesus leave HEAVEN and come down to this rotten, filthy mess we’ve made and DIE for us? This is a love we can’t even begin to comprehend. I opened my Bible to the very beginning and read the first 2 chapters of Genesis, then I stopped. Up to this point, the world was perfect. It was just how God intended it to be. I laid there and closed my eyes and imagined what it might have been like. We have no idea, because Genesis chapter 3 happened. I didn’t even want to keep reading. I just wanted to think about living in perfect peace and harmony. But, I knew deep down, now’s not the time for that. Like or not, I live in this fallen world. I am a part of this sick place where horrible things happen to innocent children and where people shiver in slums while others are sipping on hot tea right down the road. I felt so depressed at the thought of it all, and then a notecard with a verse scribbled on it fell out of the front of my Bible…
Nehemiah 8:10 – “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”
I gave a sarcastic laugh. How in the world am I suppose to have joy in the midst of this??? I thought about this for a while until I heard my Savior’s still, small voice. I can have joy, and I have to, for it is the only way I will have the strength to get through each day. I can have joy because I have that deep down peace and hope that comes only from being His child. Because I know that I am in the center of God’s will and that through His strength I can make a difference. This week, despite all of the terrible things I heard and saw, I also saw God work mightily through one small act of kindness towards 1 child. (more to come on that story) This world is a mess, and it is in a downward spiral. But that does not at all mean that we are allowed to just give up, or even lose any joy or peace over it. We are commanded to follow Jesus’ example, which means loving people unconditionally and helping the helpless. And we can do this with joy, as we look forward to what’s to come. No matter where we are in this world, there will be hurting people in need of Jesus all around us. Will we reach out to them?
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33