I watch the evening shadows stretch long as day disrobes of her light. Soon my 104 children will be pounding out ear-jarring rhythms, dust clouds mingling with prayers, both rising. Incense from a war torn patch of earth. But tonight, I am not with them.
I have gone out to get the mail, check our family bank account and run errands. A trip to the post office means a trip to a neighboring country for me. We don’t have a postal system where I live or even electricity for that matter. Motherhood in South Sudan. I am amazed at what has become my normal.
The shadows lengthen. I still can’t believe the news that met my arrival here. Some weeks, I don’t understand life at all.
Running errands, I ran into the unthinkable.
“Ruth is gone.” Flat, her voice sounded flat, with a wobble at the end. I stared blankly at my friend in the market.
“What?” Comprehension hit. Hard-fisted reality threw a right hook into my gut.
“Ruth, my friend Ruth? Young ,vibrant, full–of-life Ruth, with education and her whole future gleaming ahead… that Ruth?!?!
What? How? Impossible!”
“She got malaria,” the feeble explanation came.
“But that’s treatable. Why didn’t they treat it?”
Some days I don’t understand life at all.
Sitting here fingers pounding out heartbeats on keys, my insides cringe with yet another loss. I have buried more friends, more children in five years in Africa than a lifetime before. Azeezah, Joy, Patrick, Isaiah, Banja, now Ruth.
Grief’s fingers press hard into my heart. I now have a choice. Will I press even harder into Him? Into His heart, into His goodness no matter what my eyes see? Or will I agree with questions that throw shadows on who He is? It is always a choice. Doubt is always a choice. What will I do with my pain? Will I let it chase me into His embrace?
I rise and look, Beautiful Jesus bold in the face and again make a relentless stand.
Dig my heels in. I will not ever deny His goodness… ever.
I look Him eye to eye and say, “YOU ARE GOOD. Period.”
No loss, no difficulty, not the absence of my left leg and hip from birth, not 23 surgeries by age 13, not rebel attacks down the road, not hardship, not malaria, not misunderstanding, not the death of Ruth. Nothing will make me relent.
We live in a fallen world and there is much I don’t know. But this I do know: God is good, all the time. Bad things, terrible things happen that do not come from Him: loss, sickness, abuse. But there is no pain so deep that He is not deeper still. There is no problem so big, that He is not bigger. There is no loss so great, He cannot utterly restore it a thousand fold.
But the question tonight still remains. What will I do with my pain?
I do the only thing I know. I give it to Him as an offering. And I lean into mystery, into that which I don’t understand, even when my heart screams. I know when the dawn leaks her first rays over the horizon: a mystery embraced in the night is a doorway to majesty encountered in the morning.
Meanwhile tonight when I can’t see, I will rest in the arms of One who can. And tomorrow I will bring home the mail and groceries to my 104 children in Sudan.
by Michele, From the Unpaved RoadLeave a Comment
wow. breathtakingly beautiful and heart wrenching all at once….love that you get to love on those babies and mostly be a living example of what a relationship with Him looks like to them.
Michele in Sudan @ From the Unpaved Road says
and how those babies love on me- I am constantly astounded at how good He is to me through them. Love my kiddos! We got 4 more today. 110 now!
Beth Young says
Wow. I have been struggling lately a lot with this type of thing. I wonder why, why, I am so blessed and yet there is so much suffering. It doesn’t make sense and it would lead me to believe things that simply are not true about God. I haven’t experience suffering and I know that one day I will and I hope (and pray) that I will say that He IS good all of the time. And that His love endures forever.
Holley Gerth says
Wow, Michele, this is true courage–to look loss and fear in the face then turn to Jesus and say, “I believe you more.” After a recent loss in my life I’m nodding in agreement. Thank you for these life-giving, heart-strengthening words.
Michele in Sudan @ From the Unpaved Road says
Holly- thank you so much- great to meet you and so many more beautiful friends here. It has been such a blessing and honor to share with a new part of family found. You are so welcome. Much love in Jesus- Michele
I Live in an Antbed says
Simply beautiful. Such a precious testimony. He IS all we can stand on. He is the only place without shifting sands. We can’t know or understand anything outside the context of Him. May He bless you as you pour out His Love in His Name.
Connie Lane says
We just have to offer everything up to our Lord and say ‘Thy will be done’…. xx
Karen Thompson says
Sad times for you, but how special Papa is when these things happen.
The testimony of Love is the greatest in the Kingdom, we have to love and loss brings pain, but life is everything. Loving the land, loving the people helps healing to happen
Thank you for sharing a personal sadness and your response, so very precious.
As I write this tears are falling
Things need to change that is why Jesus died
Dena Dyer says
This is so beautiful, Michele. Thanks for pointing me to Him today.
Michele in Sudan @ From the Unpaved Road says
Dena-you are so welcome!
Lea Freitas says
As a writer, the most important part of life is being able to put something of magnitude into words that can give life to any who read it. Many people have written about the struggle with why God allows things and what to do about the pain that comes with residing upon this planet. I am going to share this over and over. The simple yet profound answer is something I need to work at putting into practice in my own life.
Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms says
Oh my. Wow. This is full of beauty and faith and I am crying now.
This line…”a mystery embraced in the night is a doorway to majesty encountered in the morning.” I will carry this with me, as well as your encouragement to keep doing what needs to be done in the meantime.
Thank you…this post is a gift!
Merisa Mumba says
Michelle, you are such an inspiration! Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us. Every obstacle you face you use it to grow closer, more intimate with HIM! I can only begin to imagine the smile you put on Daddy God’s face!
Michelle, I resonate soooo much with your faithwork as you express it in your blogs. Thanks for taking time to share it. I will be following you, as sister-journeyer, as artist and mama, and to lift you all up to our God. My heart is in Sudan today with you all.
Carla MacLachlan says
This precious line from your blog is very inspirational: A mystery embraced in the night is a doorway to majesty encountered in the morning.
God is Sovereign. His purposes are always for our good even when we don’t understand…for me the place that He has brought me to is that I can say that He is good even when He has allowed and given ( for EVERYTHING has to go through the Lord first before anything can touch our lives and so yes, He is even in control of evil too)….for me, that truth that He is sovereign, has brought such a deep peace of truly knowing that my Father is omnipotent, that nothing comes as a surprise to Him. He is still good and working it all out for my good… Using it all for His kingdom purposes.
I give Yahshuah all the glory!
His love & peace to you Michelle.
Amen and AMEN, sister! You have a choice, surely! Such truth. Giving Him glory and trusting Him that He IS a good God, who has such purpose in everything, is truly *worship*. Keep pressing ever nearer…cling, as a climber.
this is beautiful, michele… because you lived what you preach. i’m digging my heels in with you.
Ida Mundell says
“I look Him eye to eye and say, “YOU ARE GOOD. Period.”
We talked about this just this morning at a bible study. Thank you for the timely reminder and for sharing your precious heart.
Prayers for you and yours.
Michelle, this is beautiful. This glimpse of your life and your passion and loss and grief and faith. All in these few words. Yes, He is good. All the time.
Jami Kastner says
May God hold you close and comfort you.
Stunningly beautiful! Thank you!
What a time to read this.
I love our newest South Sudan and have being prayed for them for a long time. It’s so good to get to know that our God is there throught His Body and doing more, doing great things dispite the horror of war and terrible violences. This has being a journey for me too Michele and I have to decide that He is good and just; not by what we see but who He is. You there is a proof of His goodness.
Thank you Michele, God be with you,
Good Reads says
[…] Leaning Into Mystery :: (in)Courage. This is the promise that I cling to, but Michele explains it better than I ever could. Perhaps that is because she has seen suffering unlike anything I have ever seen. We live in a fallen world and there is much I don’t know. But this I do know: God is good, all the time. […]