What Do I Do When I See Suffering?

Arriving back in Ngando, 
the SUFFERING has smacked me in the face.  
It’s unavoidable… it’s lucid… 
It’s behind each pile of trash and stinking pit latrine… 
.. under the ringworm on a child’s bald head…
.. inside the home of a bed ridden mama… 
.. lurking behind hungry eyes… 
..weighing down the lowered head of a child who can’t go to school…  

I long to relieve the suffering!
My heart aches as I encounter it!

But come to find out, most of the time I can’t… 
…not here in Ngando, 
…and not back in the US (where the suffering is just as present though much more “unexposed”)

And so, Brad and I often ask ourselves - why are we here?  
If we can’t relieve the suffering, how do we even know that God is working through us to transform people’s lives?

Yesterday I saw the most BEAUTIFUL picture of God’s healing GRACE… His work… transformation…

In checking all of the jewelry that was finished last month - checking for quality, to our dismay, Sally had made 38 of her bracelets wrong!    

They would ALL have to be redone!  
We knew she would be DEVASTATED.
We also knew she DESPERATELY needed the pay for the work on those bracelets!

I arrived at the center the following day wondering how she had taken the news.
When I entered the room where beadwork is done, Sally’s bracelets were spread across the table… but Sally wasn’t even there!
Two other ladies were carefully redoing her work for her.
She may never even know what they fixed.

As I watched these grace-filled, work-worn hands repair another’s mistakes, in my mind, I reviewed the needs they have in their own lives.  The work they could have been getting done for themselves, in order to earn more money for their own pressing problems.  But, they had chosen to take this day to bless someone else.
To take their eyes off of their own blaring needs and comfort another…

This is GRACE
This is not NORMAL suffering…
This is wholeness, community, love - love that only comes from HEART TRANSFORMATION!

Self-preservation is the first law of nature, 
but self-sacrifice is the highest rule of grace

We have actually come to measure healing amongst the poor by a different standard… 
NOT whether suffering has been eradicated… Even Jesus didn’t have the goal of wiping out poverty!
Healing is apparent as we answer this question with a “yes”…   
Can I give even in the midst of my own neediness?
But this isn’t just for the poor!!!  
It’s for ALL of us!!! 
You see, when I suffer, most of the time I focus on myself.  While others around me suffer deeply, my own need DEVOURS my attention - I have nothing to give.
But this is NOT what God intended.
When I have encountered suffering… in my own life… I have received such abundant GRACE and COMFORT!  And I am blessed.
When I suffer I can’t just stop there…  When I am comforted I can’t just stop there…
Because when the river of blessing flows through me, I can’t build a dam and keep them to myself!  That is not GRACE… that is not what God intended!  I need to be a conduit through which that GRACE and COMFORT flow on to others.
This is something only Jesus can do in my life… and yours… and in the lives here in Ngando!

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NLT)

 God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 

* Names changed in this true story
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