Something I’ve learned while being in the field is not only do I have to trust the Lord with my own life in new ways, but also the lives of those I care about; those that are far away.
Over the last 2 years I have experienced the first excitements of adventure stepping out into a great big world feeling strengthened by my call to serve and joyful to know that Jesus wanted me to do this specific work in this unique place; and I have also felt the pains of being in that specific place, that is far away from people and circumstances that at times, seem to need me. In the wake of loss, I have heard myself saying “if only I could be there”. The times when I’ve felt farthest from my loved ones, I’ve realized that it isn’t in my times of need that I feel the distance, but in times of their need.
The three friends of Job visit him in his affliction they mourn his pain and then sit with him, quietly, for 7 days (Job 2:11-13). Job’s loss and illness were so dire that these men knew there were no words to offer for comfort but that did not stop them from staying near. They offered more than platitudes, while Job is truly stricken with grief, they offered their presence. I’ve learned something from visiting orphanages and seeing the broken system within which children are the recipients of poor care or unfair treatment simply because they are the bottom level to which policy drips down towards. I myself cannot change the system, I myself cannot cure any child of their diagnosis, I myself cannot even adopt a child in this country. But I can go, I can offer my presence, I can look at these children sometimes chained to the wall or hands bound and not look away. This is the thing that God has asked me to do for Him, to learn from them. To see them as image bearers. This idea of presence offering something more than words is nothing new but it has seemed to become more important to me as I have been on this side of the world witnessing hurt, pain and loss from the other. It has also, in these times of yearning to be in a different place, led me to ask God to comfort those in need with more than words but also with His presence. These aren’t soft “oh I’m so sorry, I’ll pray for yous” sent upwards on the wind. These are requests made in trust that they will be heard by the all-powerful God that created the world. A God that answers “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:4). This world that seems so big to us, how small it is to Him. Yet He loves us like a father and not the kind that gives you anything you ask for, but the kind that dies for you, and makes a way for you even when you don’t deserve it. What greater need is there in anyone than knowing the truth that they are loved beyond measure, eternally, by God who desires them, and wants them to know Him and know the comfort found only and exclusively in Him. He is the creator of the universe and He is offering His presence to those in need. A high and holy God bent low saying to any soul that will listen to him, that He loves us, me and you. How can we be sure, when things like death have ravaged our peace? The cross, our God does not judge us for questioning Him, instead He points us back to the sacrifice He made so that we could know Him, and forward to the eternal hope we have in Him, in Christ.