Pete's brother-in-law (I'll call him D, for privacy's sake) is from Sri Lanka, and he still has family there. We keep up on the unsettled happenings over there, and we were relieved to hear last week that the ongoing civil war had been declared over. Pete commented that it would make things safer for D's family.
A day later, however, we got a call from Pete's mom saying that D's cousin, mother to twin boys and caretaker of D's mom, had been arrested and no one knew where she was. We thought that she must surely be dead, because people who get arrested over there most often never appear again or turn up murdered. We prayed anyway, and late last week, we heard that she had been found, in prison.
She was called for trial and fined. She told her husband she was okay, that she had started a prayer ministry. He paid her fine in court and she was set to be released. But as she was leaving the courtroom, an official leaned over to the judge and she was arrested again.
I don't know how to pray for people in situations like these sometimes, because I can hardly believe it can really happen, that justice can be so perverted, that God can be bigger than a government that presumes its hold over life and death. I cannot imagine living in a world like Sri Lanka, where the political instability means that everything I hold dear is threatened.
This weekend, though, something happened in my own life that caused me to realize that even the stability I know here may be threatened, by disease, by change, by accident. As I looked at the ceiling and asked God what He could be thinking, I realized that trusting His best in my life is a very big, big thing. It is hard to be quiet in the void of what I don't know, to rest in His Godness when it feels like my world is falling apart, to hold onto that peace that passes understanding when I want to try to make sense of it all.
Sometimes, I think God chose the weak and the fool because we were the only ones who would let Him be God. I love that He chose Israel for His people, those crazy, disobedient, faithless, frightened, human children of His servant Abraham. What is redemption if not for us who need a Savior?
Last night, we got word that D's cousin was home with her family again, something it seems only God could have accomplished in her situation. My weekend situation cleared yesterday, and all was well. Yet I can't shake that sense of helplessness that overwhelmed me with these situations, the knowledge that unless God chose to intervene, something horrible could happen, and I would still need to trust that He is good and knows what is best for me, even if He didn't answer my prayers in the way I wanted.
It is humbling to be so helpless. I want to demand that He do what I think is best, but my perspective is changing. Whether I am here in the mostly stable U.S. or hiding from persecution in a third world country, my life as I know it is fragile, and my security is only the knowledge of God's heart toward me.
I don't know how to explain Him, only that His love is the answer to the fear that leads me to take hold of my own life. I can't demand that He prove His love for me - the proof was in the Cross, the Savior he sent to free us from our need to preserve our own lives.
As I remember those in bonds who know Him, I remember that I am the same, and I know I must pray with courage and faith that God may do the impossible, or He will triumph and avenge His people in His time. I find myself longer on my knees as I learn to submit my idea of what is good to His will for what He has planned for His glory.
I am a little afraid of this lesson. It is making me stronger, humbler, deeper, smaller. It is another lessening of my control of my life, another step closer to a Cross I have not wanted to bear. Remembering those who bear it every day helps me know that His grace is sufficient for me too, and that even in my weakness, He is strong.
From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth - he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.
No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.
We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you. (Ps. 33:13-22)