Monday, February 21, 2011

Suffering: Sin and Sanctification (and alliteration thrown in)

I spent yesterday crying about all the pointless pain in the world. Well, other than the going-to-church, eating, dance raving parts of the day.
Throughout the past year, God has taught me a lot about pain, life and the meaning of existence. Mostly, that without pain we cannot have joy. But that's another story, and another post on its way. 
I'm learning that we can "rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."
Pain as a part of sanctification I am beginning to accept, but what I cannot accept or understand is all the pointless pain. Yesterday I talked to my best friend from Africa/Iowa, and could only cry as she shared how she lays awake at night, haunted by the face of babies she's held from the hospital in Kuitiala. Wondering if they're even alive. Why does God allow a baby to be born just to suffer for two days and then die? Often for no better reason than the shortage of proper medicine and supplies. I don't see the point in that, or any way God can weave a baby's painful gasping for air into his little, collapsing lungs, into His bigger story of redemption. I don't understand why God allows it.
But this morning He showed me He doesn't. We do.
There are two kinds of suffering in the world. Suffering as a part of sanctification, which must be surrendered to and even embraced, and suffering as a result of sin.
All the pointless pain in the world, pain with no redemption in it, is the result of our direct disobedience and rebellion. God's clear commands are to protect and provide for the innocent and weak. When we fail to do that, babies die in Africa for lack of malaria medicine, and lukewarm Christians sit on their couches wasting their lives in America.
If we are not actively seeking justice, "defending the fatherless and the widow" then there is blood on our hands (Isaiah 1:15. You should just read the whole passage).
I am the problem.


I decided to start a blog because I always seem to be bursting with ideas and stories about life, and specifically what God is doing in my life. I get very excited and want to shout it to the world, but facebook doesn't seem like the right medium. And I'm not talented enough to write a book, so hey presto! A blog is perfect.
God, family, Africa and life will be the most common topics. Books might come up just a little too. Here goes.

P.S. Aunt Krista always referred to Mali, West Africa as "the land of sandals" and thus the title. I always planned on starting a blog when I move to Mali, and calling it "in the land of sandals" but I'm not technically in it yet, just on my way.