Unexplained pain in my body crowds out precious space in my mind. Like a mean slum lord, it kicks out the tenants: perspective, clarity, and sanity.
With the tears still streaming, I called my mom, went for a walk in the sunshine, read a few chapters in the book of Hosea, and listened to Mma Ramotse’s soothing voice in an audible book (one in the Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency series), before deciding I might tackle just one item on my to-do list.
The day before, I received an email with news too good to be true. Was it really for me? I had to know. Curiosity kills this cat. I dialed the office that sent the email. No, so sorry. It was a meant for someone else with a similar name. “Okay, no biggie.” I suspected as much.
But the call did have a “biggie” in store, of another kind. The woman on the other end of the line asked, “How are you?” Because she wasn’t a total stranger and knew some of my history, I said, “I’m still struggling.” She asked another question, a genuine invitation to spill the beans. Though I had never seen her face, I felt the empathy oozing across the line, beckoning me to share. So out it came—a true account of my current state along with a bucket of tears. She listened and loved and prayed for me…she let herself be interrupted. Why?
She, too, was a member of this awful club: The Brokenhearted.
It was because she was brokenhearted that she could minister to me in that way, because of her suffering that her prayer touched me so deeply.
She had street credibility. In those moments together, sister to sister, we broke the bread of fellowship in Jesus, and the fellowship of suffering.
Part of the reason our suffering doesn’t make sense to us here on earth is because we don’t understand time–not the way God does. The moment we repent of our sins and enter into a relationship with God through Jesus, our lives become eternal. They will continue long past our death. But, here on this earth, our lives are a vapor—that means our suffering is, too.
Yet, on days like yesterday, when the pain is overwhelming, the suffering seemingly interminable, I find myself wishing even what’s left of this brief life away. I begged God, “If you want me to stay, to do work here, I want to. Please give me the energy, the fortitude, the brain capacity to do it.” Of course, no one can give God conditions—He’s God. But I ask anyway.
This particular heroine works in the trenches with the poor in a third world country—lonely, draining, and inglorious work that is as likely to get you kicked in the shins (or the gut), as it is to get you a bouquet of flowers.
When we wrapped up, she said she was sooooo thankful for our chat. How is this possible? How can the heartbroken be helpful? How can the pitiful be productive?
Really, God? Today? How can I, a blubbering mess of a woman, be a voice for the voiceless?
How can a woman whose heart is sinking like a rock one minute, soar with the joy of the possibility of being able to rescue a few women on the other side of the planet the next?
How can a woman who has spent years in vain trying to find a solution to her own suffering relieve the suffering of others?
Yesterday, while I didn’t get the healing I’m desperate for, I did get perspective: I’m not trapped in a brothel, or a slum, or in poverty, or illiterate.
My body is broken and my years-long quest to fix it continues, but I still have a voice, connections, and freedom, all of which can be used to serve women in far-flung lands who have precious little of any of these.
God gave me more than perspective; He gave me purpose—the pleasure of being of service to two heroines working in the hard places.
How has God used you when you felt the least use-able?