Wednesday, December 27, 2000

Created for His Good Pleasure

Before we faced the challenges ahead of us, the broken down bus, the blizzard that created a “white out”, the bureaucrats that fought to keep us out of the schools, we began with a daily devotion read from the Voice of the Martyrs book Jesus Freaks. This proved to be an excellent way to bring the team’s focus on the realization our pathway to this remote and frozen location was purchased with more than the price of our airfare.

Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD Psalms 102:18

Christian beliefs were exercised under the Communist regime at great cost. Many thousands gave their lives, many thousands more suffered in the Siberian wastelands known and made famous by Alexander Solzhenitszen’s Gulag Archipelago. Eyes welled with tears in both the Russian interpreters and the American emissaries as we listened each morning. Yet we heard victory through the testimony of Russian persecution and martyrdom, and we saw the reward, in our paths being made straight to come into this once restricted land.

The righteousness of the blameless makes a straight way for them Proverbs 11:5

Tuberculosis has reached epidemic proportions in the former Soviet Union and the disease is taking its toll on the undernourished children of the orphanages. Where is the God of mercy, when children who are the most disabled are given less nourishment, because there is not enough? How is God working in a remote Siberian village, inside a tuberculosis ward filled with half-naked, starving children? The friends of Christ asked Him similar questions when they saw the innocent suffering:

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” John 9:1-3

The day after we visited the children’s sanatorium, sadness at seeing the desperate circumstances they were in threatened to crush the spirits of team members. As we struggled emotionally during the morning devotional, a reflective discussion on God’s mercy ensued. An eloquent response was offered, not in answer to the ultimate question of “why”, but it provided a way for us to deal with the feelings brought on by the plight of the children.

Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. Matthew 11:26

Our team member replied that while she gazed upon the lifeless, tiny bodies of the afflicted infants, tears flowed freely. The comprehension of “why” this suffering existed anywhere in the world let alone in a cold, isolated, ward with paint peeling from the walls overwhelmed her. But within her questioning soul, the Lord gave comfort by the scriptures relating to all things being created for His good pleasure.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Our eyes are trained to see illnesses, and maladies of birth as “brokenness”. Human flesh created by mistake and defeated by the world. Yet faith requires we believe that all things are under the Lord’s control. God creates no mistakes. He allows the “breaks” and the “brokenness” in humanity that interrupts our lives, distorts our view and distracts us from what plans we have made for our children and ourselves. Often I’m asked how I handle the emotional strain of seeing children in such severe need. Truthfully, I know their problems are so big - ONLY God can handle the situation. It keeps me from taking on more than is meant for me to carry.

For in you the fatherless find compassion Hosea 14:3