I’m sitting here working on a long list of to-dos and suddenly my heart breaks open. My camera snaps a photo of my to-do list journal and when I look at it, before posting it to Instagram, I’m stopped in my tracks. The irony is thick. The contrast enough to strike me into tears.
My journal represents all the plans and ideas I have when it comes to writing and ministry. It’s full of hopes, dreams, and expectations for longings fulfilled. Barely begun, these pages are ready to take note of things which breathe life into me, and hopefully into the lives of others.
Next to my journal photo is a picture I took the day before.
I wonder about the hopes, dreams, expectations, and longings held by the individuals in this picture. I consider how new life will be birthed in more ways than one. I think, do they wonder if their hopes and dreams have been crushed?
Two teenage sisters stand side by side. I asked them to smile and joked that they should act like they love each other. Looking back, the joke may have been in poor taste, as it’s clear they are close. But what they’re going through is tough. Asking them to smile in spite of the situation is tough, also.
Their world is being ripped into shreds and sewn with the threads of Jesus’ love all at the same time. I can barely contain myself reflecting on the contrast between the two situations and how God is somehow still sovereign over it all.
Several weeks ago, a new family visited our church. Immediately, those who met them knew there was something heavy going on, as the Spirit prompted intervention. Women asked questions and soon learned just how dark the clouds were looming over their hearts and minds.
A single mother, merely 36 years old, with four children ranging in age from 13-20. One child out of the home, three still in her daily care.
She’s suffering from cervical cancer to the bone and her prognosis is terminal.
Her sixteen year old daughter is pregnant and her future is uncertain.
Both beheld at the same time. It feels overwhelming. Far too great a burden to bear.
God doesn’t intend for us to carry our burdens alone, though.
I don’t know the details of their situation, whether the dad is around or if their faith is sound. What I do know is the love which overflows the hearts of many in my Austin, TX church. People give to others who need it. Not just money. Not just time. Not even just provision. But, love, grace, mercy, compassion, hope, faith, prayer, and family.
So was the case this particular Sunday. One introduction led to another and pretty soon one community group, at the leading of a few men, embraced this mom and her children. Soon, our community group joined in, which gave me the opportunity to contribute, seemingly in a small way.
In just a few weeks, this sixteen year old girl is expected to deliver her baby. Due to the mom’s current condition, it’s unlikely she’ll be able to be present while her daughter gives birth. The compounding of circumstances makes me want to rail my fists at God and shout, “It’s not fair! It’s not right!”. Those feelings never seem to last for long, because deep seeded beliefs take over.
God is good.
His ways are hard to understand, but he is still good. He never changes. He has a plan, whether I can see it or not. I believe this with all of my being, so, I choose to look for His goodness in all circumstances. And I ponder if I can be a vessel for sharing that belief with this family, and others in the midst of crisis and pain.
I’ve had to fight for this truth in my own moments of despair and know the value of having others remind my heart of what it needs to know and hear.
A community put their arms around this breaking family, as if they were their own. I’ve seen it happen many times before. I’m not surprised, but I am still awed.
Community put together a baby shower for this young new mama, although her family had only attended church a few times. I was invited to the shower even though I hadn’t yet met any of them. It was an honor to take part in this story which God is writing.
It was requested I take photos, and now I look at them with both gladness and sadness.
I look back at the picture of my journal and consider the delight I feel when thinking of new things to do and new ideas, which I hope to see birthed into reality.
I contemplate about this young girl and her siblings and consider all the new things she will experience with her baby, as well as the possibility of experiencing these without her mama.
Still, God is good. It’s hard to believe it, and sometimes it’s hard to remember it, but He is good regardless. He will be with this family wherever they go and He is displaying His goodness even today through the love of His people.
My heart still wants to fight this truth, because the pain I know they feel is so terribly real. So, I fondly remind myself of His goodness and seek ways to share this truth in practical ways. I pray that the hearts of God’s people everywhere will be touched in such a way that they will reach out to those in their communities, and share love, grace, mercy, compassion, hope, faith, prayer, and the sense of family.
The hurting are all around us. They always will be. So, too, will be our to-do lists.
Sometimes, it appears our hopes, dreams, and expectations of longings fulfilled are no longer with us. The burdens & struggles in life seemingly try to win out. But the truth is is that God is faithful to redeem them, restore them, and breathe new life into them.
Often times, He will reveal His very own plan that he was weaving all along, because He is a good, good Father and He deeply loves us.
May we know this to be true. May we help others to know it, too.