Pain. It’s something you see every day here. A baby with an amputated leg screams as the gauze dressing over his severed stump is pulled off exposing his flesh to the air. A grandmother bravely grimaces as the bandage over her broken leg is changed and the bone pieces that are exposed to view scrape and grind with what must be awful pain. A heartbroken, bereaved father sobs for his son who was suddenly robbed of life in a terrible motorcycle accident.

The sadder fact is that baby will never be able to run on that leg. He will never be able to ride a bike with it. He may be fortunate enough to have a family who can afford a prosthetic, but his childhood won’t be the same as yours, I promise you.

That grandmother will end up losing her leg to an amputation, after which she may very well be abandoned or neglected by her family who can’t afford to spare someone from the fields to take care of her day in and day out. There are no nursing homes here.

The agonizing father will never get to see his son grow up. His son didn’t get to live a full life. The father will never see him run or play again. He will never see him get married or start a business.

How do you handle seeing pain? How does it affect you? We all see pain in the world around us. Much as we’d like to live in a perfect, painless world, we don’t. Some people ignore the pain around them by focusing solely on themselves. Others drown out the pain with entertainment. But these responses do nothing to help those in pain. How does one help those in pain? How can you avoid being overwhelmed?

There are no pat answers. There is no simple explanation. Biologically, pain has a purpose–to warn us of impending damage to our body. It has reason for existence. But what useful, noble purpose do we assign to the baby’s pain? How can we explain the grandmother’s sad situation? How do we make sense of an accident costing the life of the father’s son?

Ultimately, I don’t know. I can’t explain it.

I know it is a sad result of life in our sinful world. But I can’t explain why this baby lost his leg or why this grandmother is likely going to die from neglect or why this father lost his son.

I can’t explain why. I can, however, choose to live a life of service–to help those in pain–those who have experienced more than their share of this world’s burdens. I can choose to spend my life trying to make a difference. I can choose to refuse to ignore the pain of those living around me.

This is how God calls us to deal with the pain we see around us. This is what he says:

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?”
(Isaiah 58:5-7)

God asks us to be agents of healing in the world. He asks us to love our neighbor and be the good samaritan. But he does more. He makes a promise–”He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:3-4)

Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” –Hebrews 12:1,2

As I was going for a jog yesterday, I began contemplating this verse. It struck me–how often do I run the race of life fixing my eyes on something other than Jesus? It doesn’t say “fixing our eyes on friends” or “fixing our eyes on family” or even “fixing our eyes on the souls in need of salvation.” It simply says, “fixing our eyes on Jesus.” Jesus is to be the one we focus on. People will always let you down, but Jesus never will.

When God lets things in your life come to pieces, when people fail you, when you are left standing all alone–look to Jesus and keep running.

When you look at something while you run, you naturally run towards it. When we look towards Jesus, we’ll naturally draw closer and closer to Him. Our character will be closer and closer to His. Our life will become more and more similar to His. As we get closer to Him, we will see less and less other stuff. He will fill our field of view.

Life is a run. Run to Jesus.

First Week in Tchad!

It’s hard to believe it’s only been a week since I arrived in Tchad. One can do an amazing amount in a week. I’ve been helping with rounds every morning (and learning what to do and thoroughly enjoying it.) I’ve helped with moving a bunch of stuff between containers that has to be done. I’ve ventured out into the market and gotten a taste of negotiating in an open-air market. I’ve learned just enough French to confuse whoever I’m trying to talk to.

At the same time, it’s also amazing how Satan attacks you so much more when you are where God wants you to be. It’s been said so often it’s almost a cliché, but it’s true. In less than 48 hours after arriving in Moundou, a number of things happened. Trusting God is a continual, daily, moment-by-moment struggle. And I’m sure it will get harder–it’s only been a week after all. But God is there through everything.

Excuse me while I go over to the hospital to watch and help Dr. Scott check on a lady whose wound won’t stop bleeding. Life in Tchad goes on!