By Mommy Emily
It’s dusk when the news hits my phone. The church we worked so hard to build for Pastor Santos last month in the South Sudan camps has been destroyed overnight — along with countless other churches and homes and businesses — by a vicious cyclone that went on to strike Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, where 800 lives have been lost so far, with tens of thousands still missing.
I watch videos of the destruction, of men and women standing with hands on their heads staring at their livelihood smashed by Cyclone Idai, just minutes after Aria and I have finished recounting the story of Jesus telling the storm to stop and peace coming to the boat and to the disciples.
And I begin to weep.
Sometimes helping is so hard.
Hard because life is so unfair.
Hard because much of what we fight is spiritual, not physical.
Hard because we want to give out of pure love and not guilty hearts, but sometimes the lines are blurry.
Hard because I am about to head to the mountains on a holiday – and everything feels wrong.
Here I am, safely tucked in a village of northern Canada, two vehicles in the driveway, a fancy playset for my children in the fenced-in backyard, and us worrying that we won’t have enough cat food to sustain our pet while we’re gone.
Meanwhile, my African brothers and sisters have just watched everything they own be lifted up and then smashed to the ground by the angry fist of a demonic storm.
Most of the time I handle the ocean-gap with a semblance of grace. Most of the time I’m able to compartmentalize.
But this time, all of me is ripped open. This night, it hits me—the heavy responsibility of living in such an affluent country and how my daily actions, choices, and lifestyle affects not just how my children view the world but my friends across the waters.
I know we have been freed from guilt by the cross – by the tremendous sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
But let me clarify: this ripping open is not one of guilt, but of tremendous sorrow over the injustice in the world.
And I wonder, Church, if we sorrow enough? I wonder if we’re so focused on Jesus coming to take our guilt and our shame that we have become numb to the conviction and grief of the Holy Spirit?
For guilt and grief are not the same. Grief is the realization that we still have a debt to love (please read this beautiful account of love shown in Zimbabwe in the midst of Cycle Idai’s destruction).
Grief is the compelling to give, to help, to break for another. These things are Biblical commands. Hebrews 13:3 tells us to enter into this suffering place for our brothers and sisters. I like how the NLT puts it:
Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.
We are called to this suffering place, church. Read Colossians 1:24:
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church… (ESV)
We are even called to REJOICE in our sufferings for others because, by doing so, we are furthering the gospel, the very purpose of Christ on the cross. We are bringing LIFE to the world, RECONCILIATION to the world by crying out to God on others’ behalf and wrestling in the dark over hypocrisies and inconsistencies.
And then – we let go. We let go because we are NOT God. We let go, because He is good. And He CAN and WILL one day fix all things.
Thank you for joining us in this battle friends. We are happy to announce that Pastor Santos’ church has been rebuilt in the South Sudan camps (see photo below). The Lord is so faithful.