Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Irony and awe

As most of you probably know, I am far more at home with irony than with awe.

Every once in awhile, though, wonder breaks through my shell of cynicism. As I was sitting on my back porch the other day, reading, drinking coffee, and talking to God, I was overwhelmed with God’s goodness. The grace was almost palpable, carried on the breeze of a glorious spring morning.

Since graduating from college four years ago, I have lived in two countries and the same number of states. For an introverted, change-resistant girl like me, this is has involved an awful lot of adaptation, forced extroversion, and reluctant courage. It’s also involved a lot of learning, and most of the lessons have not come easily.

Before coming to Wichita, a little less than a year ago, I began praying that God would prepare a place for me here. Frankly, I’d gotten a bit tired of the whole process of picking up my life every year or two and starting over, so I asked him to smooth my path, and to give me courage.

He answered that prayer far more abundantly than I could have imagined. I had gotten used to praying and assuming that, while God would hear, he would end up giving me something far more difficult and unpleasant than I had been hoping for.

I really do believe that God works for good in everything, and that he has done that, visibly, in my own life. I see the good fruit of my difficult times every day. But God has given me rest in the last year, and I am unspeakably thankful. He knew that I had had about as much as I could handle, and he, like a good Father, knew that I needed a break.

This year hasn’t been perfect, of course; it has certainly had its ups and downs. But, overwhelmingly, God has provided. I feel like David in Psalm 31:8; God has indeed “set my feet in a spacious place.”

The irony of it all is that the difficulties I have come through make me realize and savor God’s goodness in ways that I would never have been able to without them. And this irony leaves me in awe.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Falling through the cracks

I’ve been looking through the World Health Organization’s 2009 Mortality and Burden of Disease Statistics, in preparation for some grant writing. The numbers are overwhelming, to say the least. As I scrolled through the document, looking at numbers representing life expectancy and infant mortality, I reflected on the immense size of the need.

All of these numbers represent human beings—people with families, people who are of incredible value to their Maker. And these people are dying of diseases that could be cured, of wounds that could be healed. They have fallen through the cracks of our support systems.

At Hospitals of Hope, we’re working to serve as many of these people as we can. But what we can do is limited. Even within our existing ministry, we constantly have to prioritize among the many pressing needs we’re presented with. There are far too many people that we can do nothing to help.

As I’m faced with this problem day after day, I think I’m finally beginning to gain some perspective. As my sister told me a few weeks ago, God never asked us to solve all of the world’s problems. He only asks us to do what we can, where we can, with his help.

God never asked us to save the world. That’s his job.

He sees every sparrow that falls. He knows the number of the hairs on our heads. When people slip through the cracks in our society, we can rest assured that they will fall into his hands.

Monday, May 4, 2009

So much for wisdom...

Lately, I’ve been realizing how very little I know. My younger brother asks me for advice, and I have none to give him. My friends struggle with difficult decisions, and I am silent.

This is rather unusual for me. Those of you who know me well (and, probably, even those who don’t know me very well) know that my initial quietness is only a thin veil for my strong opinions.

And yet, more and more, I am speechless.

It’s not that I don’t still have a lot of strong opinions that I’m willing to air to anyone who will listen (and a good many people who’d rather not). Rather, I’m beginning to realize that all of the answers that I thought I had don’t account for the complexity of life. Life is bigger, and scarier, and better, and more beautiful, than I knew.

Supposedly, the wise are those who recognize how very little they know. This means that, right now, as I’m claiming to be realizing my ignorance, I’m secretly hoping that this actually reveals how very wise I really am.

So much for that.