I was planning to write a blog about faithfulness. How it is important to be faithful in the small things. How impact is not found in quantity but in quality. How sometimes the day-to-day feels monotonous, one day melting in to the next, with nothing extraordinary to show for it when the clock ticks 12:00am. How change oftentimes happens in slow, incremental shifts that go unnoticed; unseen until hindsight sharpens to 20/20. How seemingly insignificant words and actions have far reaching impact.
It’s funny how the best laid plans can go awry.
Because these words have been wiped from the slate of my brain, which feels uncharacteristically empty; a reflection of a heart that is broken, battered, and bruised.
A heart that is aching for all things to be made right.
It’s easy to think of Haiti as a place of never-ending summer, beaches, and sunshine. Sometimes, believe it or not, it’s easy to forget how broken Haiti is; how broken humanity is. After living here for just over a year, the things that were initially shocking have become normal life. The sights, the smells, the experiences; I find myself on autopilot more often than not. I settle into my daily routine, content and happy in the sphere God has placed me in, forgetting the messiness of life. And then something happens to bring the neat, self-constructed scaffolding of my falsely secure world crashing down around my feet. I am reminded afresh of the ugly nature of sin and the brokenness of this world.
And my heart breaks.
Two weeks ago, a bridge in Port Au Prince collapsed, causing a chain of events to unfold that resulted in the brutal, senseless murder of three Deaf women.
The word feels as ugly as it is. Three beautiful, vibrant, precious women gone, who just days before were laughing, loving, and living. When I was in their village that Monday after the bridge collapsed, the worry was palpable. No one had seen or heard from Monique, Vanessa, or Sophonie since Friday when they left for Port Au Prince. One of Sophonie’s sons grabbed my hand to tag along as I visited friends to catch up on life. And life was okay. Relatively speaking. There were, of course, the normal concerns of clean water, jobs, and night-time lights for a community of people whose language is visual. But the underlying current of concern pulled and tugged at conversation, was seen in the way my friends looked at Sophonie’s little boy, and was felt in the way they grasped my hands to say goodbye. And then the call came Monday night.
Those three women would not be returning home.
Shock. Anger. Confusion. Fear. Doubt. Sorrow. Weariness. My heart felt like it had imploded. And as I looked across the table into the eyes of a dear friend and one of the leaders of the Deaf community, I saw my own emotions magnified and amplified. The tenuous blanket of security felt by the Deaf community had been cruelly and suddenly stripped away. The grief leaked out of the corners of my eyes, tracing a hot path through the sweat and grime on my face.
Six children now without a mother. A community that lost a skilled artisan and entrepreneur. A church that will miss the joy and grace of one of their song leaders and members. A tightly knit community of people who will keenly feel the loss of three beloved women. This is the raw reality of life, the ugly, savage nature of sin. And it’s horrible.
How does one even begin to process this? How do I quiet the tumult of questions in my mind? And how can my broken heart and the shattered hearts of a community of people find healing and rest?
The answer is the cross.
The past two weeks have been wrought with heaviness, hurt, and darkness. But in the midst of the oppressive weight, I can feel the Spirit drawing the eyes of my heart to the cross. And I know the truth that is there. But sometimes what I know to be true is overwhelmed by the lies and deceit of my sinful heart. And that is why I must let truth dictate thoughts and emotions. Not the other way around.
I know that at the cross the One who said He would never forsake me was forsaken by His Father. The One who had lived in perfect unity with the Father and Spirit was suddenly bereft of that unity and experienced the agony of utter abandonment. He underwent hell so we wouldn’t have to.
I know that at the cross the perfect, sinless One willingly chose to drink the full cup of God’s wrath for me. He emptied it. The furious anger meant for me was absorbed instead by the Spotless Lamb. He knows suffering that we cannot begin to fathom.
I know that the cross is indisputably the best and most perfect picture of God’s love for me. “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). “He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all…” (Romans 8:32). “Yet the Lord was pleased to crush Him severely…" (Isaiah 53:10) All this for us. There is no doubt of God’s love. The cross persuades us of this.
I know that at the cross there is victory. Because sin and death did not overcome. It is at the cross we find hope for future restoration, hope for a King who will rule and reign with justice and goodness. for a day when He will right all wrongs.
In Matthew 11, Jesus beckons those of us who are weary and burdened to come and learn from Him. And every single one of God’s promises finds their “yes” in Him (1 Corinthians 1:20).
So, when I am doubting the promised goodness of God, I look to Christ and remember that He is unspeakably good and loves me and this community of hurting people beyond measure.
When I am feeling lost and broken, I look to Christ and remember that He was forsaken so that we never will be.
When I am feeling the crushing weight of sin and despair, I look to Christ and remember that His power is greater and that He has already overcome.
When I am feeling suffocated by hopelessness, I look to Christ and remember that He is our hope.
When I worry for these six children, I look to Christ and remember that He is a father for the fatherless.
When sorrow threatens to overwhelm my soul, I look to Christ and remember that that He intimately knows our sorrows and tears.
When I falter in my weakness, I look to Christ who is my strength. For it is in Christ that we find healing. He is the mender of broken hearts, and the giver of hope. It’s simple really; just a rehearsal of God’s promises, but, oh, the life-giving power that is found in God’s words to us. It is here, as my heart settles on these truths, that I find rest; rest at the foot of the cross. And it is here I want to stay.