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Life Through Death

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deut. 31:8 I’m finding myself staring at the walls of Facebook friends who are still in Uganda, for long periods of time, reading and reading and reading. I’m not sure what I am looking for or why it is the place I gravitate, particularly when it was an experience from which I was desperate to return home. Maybe because it was just so hard and as if I ran sprinting out of there like a refugee fleeing for his life, that I find myself feeling “abruptly” home and missing something. But I don’t know what it is that I am missing or what business still needs to be finished or what it is that happened to me there that makes those Facebook walls feel safe and comforting. Search me oh God and know my heart… Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death. Psalm 68:19-20 I was stripped of power there, stripped of control, stripped of a voice or at least had the volume turned down so low it could not be understood, and stripped of certainty, answers, strength, autonomy,…and who knows what else. And over there, apples found in a street supermarket (or fresh strawberries) are like the golden egg found in the backyard on Easter. American friends spread the word about such finds and meet to share them in one another’s company. A Saturday night gathering of new friends, bonded by the same homesickness, is precious because the evening feels “normal”, like something precious from that longed for life at home. And then it turns out, it was precious in a way that daily life at home will never allow. Maybe it is the intensity of the time in appointments with officials whose language you don’t totally understand, which are preceded by hours and hours of packed yet quiet waiting rooms where you are forced to entertain babies and children who have accompanied you with whatever you find in your backpack or can make use of in that room itself. Maybe it is the rarity of a dependable hot shower at then end of a long, dirty day. Maybe it is the lurking possibility that the power will go out at any moment or maybe not until tomorrow night, like an effective thriller, the tension of possible loss is always active just below the surface. Maybe it is that your own family and personal life is taking on a radical change but doing so in a setting so drastically unfamiliar you aren’t sure which requires more energy. I think it has more to do with the stunning shock to the system similar to that of jumping into cold water when a hot summer day has raised your body’s temperature way beyond comfort. There is something jarring about going from overheated to freezing just as there is something dangerous in moving quickly from starvation to feasting. I went from survival living conditions to relative luxury just by stepping on an airplane. It feels like an answer came before the question could be fully formed. But what is the question? What was happening in my heart through that grueling experience, that particular suffering, which has been relieved in such a way that it almost mirrors the unexpected experience of the power going out which causes sight of the surroundings to be lost? What was I shown, or given sight to see, or just on the brink of seeing that pushes my attention back to the place that was so very hard? But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. Job 36:15 Ever since Adam and Eve broke their covenant with God, redemption comes through suffering. God delivers every single one of His children in their suffering. He speaks to me in my affliction. Over and over there, I was shown my weakness in ways I couldn’t pretend otherwise. Over and over there I saw my selfishness, my entitlement, my impatience, my critical attitude, my lack of love, my lack of faith and so on. And over and over again there I was shown His kindness, His generosity, His patience, His compassion and His love in ways I couldn’t miss. When I am less, He becomes more to me. Here I am more, and too quickly, He becomes less to me. And so, it seems, that is why I lurk in front of the walls of comments of others sharing the same experience and linger longer on those pages. The rawness is fresh there, the weakness and helplessness palpable, and with it, so is the presence of my Father who never leaves me nor forsakes me. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Romans 8:10-11

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