“I fell to the floor,” my friend confessed. “I looked to the heavens and cried out, ‘Lord, where are you???’”
I stood beside my friend and held her hand. I hadn’t seen her for just over a year. She is one of my longstanding and dear Finetown* friends. She had brought me to her new school. Once again, despite her challenges, she had worked and worked and worked and saved and saved and saved to construct a four-room early childhood development center off her home property. It was a stand-alone, sturdy brick schoolhouse.
Over the years, I have witnessed her take on a variety of different projects to improve her school to meet the requirements of the South African Government and in so doing create a safe and inviting atmosphere for her children and their families. My friend always had a project. Always. I am very proud of her!
Often times when people look upon African faces in short-term or long-term mission team photos, they see resolute joy and an exuberant countenance. Their eyes seem to dance with gratitude and their body language expresses something that many in the world long for – peace in all circumstances.
However, these are photos. From my experience, the majority of people I meet in southern Africa enjoy posing for a quick photo – whether they know me or not. They smile big and large! Even yesterday, I requested to take a photo of a new school in Weiler’s Farm* and as I did I was rushed by preschool children shouting, “I want a photo! Take my picture! Look at me!”
Yet, if I had pulled out my camera to capture this hand-held moment between my friend and me, you would have seen no resemblance of a smile – her eyes stung with agony, her lips quivered in pain, her face was pinched and sore. When I asked her about her family, she said, “Heather, I can’t even….”
You see, for as long as I have known my friend, her marital life has been difficult. I won’t delve into specific information for her privacy’s sake. However, my friend has chosen to remain loyal and true to her husband. As a result, she has endured a tremendous amount of betrayal, emotional pain and suffering.
Another treacherous act occurred last week and this is when she called out to her God, “Where are you? Do you see what is happening? I don’t think I can endure this anymore!”
I wonder if any of us feel similar feelings of abandon?
Our life circumstances may be different. Yet, has there been a time – even now – when we have wondered where God is and if He is aware of our pain and trouble?
Have any of us exclaimed, “God, where are you?”
This past week, my saint word study led me to the book of Hebrews. These are the words that are shared in the sixth chapter:
God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people – His saints – and continue to help them. New International Version, Hebrews 6:10
Consider these characteristics of the Lord:
God is not unjust.
God remembers our work.
God honors the love we have shown Him.
God sees how we have cared for others.
The word ‘unjust’ comes from the Greek transliterated word, adikos. Adikos is an adjective which means without justice, unrighteous, fraudulent, and wicked.
To continue, the word ‘forget’ is derived from the Greek transliterated word, epilanthanomai (isn’t that’s a mouthful!). Epilanthanomai is a verb which means to forget, to neglect, to no longer care for, and to be given over to oblivion.
So, to put this all together for us, even if we don’t feel like our God is near or that He can see our challenging circumstances, or that he remembers us or even cares for us, this is not the reality of who God is!
God is just.
God does remember us.
God does see what we are doing and what situation we are in at the moment.
God is near.
David understood these truths about his God and believe me, the life of David was no picnic for decades!
I have set the Lord always before me,
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
New International Version, Psalm 16:8
As my friend shared her troubled heart with me yesterday, she finally shared, “I know God is here. He has been with me through terrible times. I just need someone by me to help me remember that.”
Don’t we all?
Don’t we need a friend or family member to come alongside us during disheartening times to say, “I’m with you. I love you. And most importantly, your God is here, too!”
We need friends to remind us of this pivotal truth:
God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people – His saints – and continue to help them.
This is what my friend needed as I held her hand and listened to her share her heartbreaking story.
She needed to know that she was not alone.
Friends, remember, just as Facebook portrays only a toe-depth story of your friends’ lives, the same is true of those you see in photos from around the world – especially Africa. A photo introduces you to a person’s life and shares a brief moment in time.
What is most needed – wherever someone is located in the world – are friends and family who are willing to listen to the whole story. They need a word of encouragement that reminds them:
God is near.
God does see what is happening in your life.
God does care about you. In fact, He loves and adores you!
God is not unjust – He will act upon your behalf and set things straight in His time.
Are you willing to share these needed, encouraging, and heart-lifting words to your friends?
If you are a follower of Christ – and one of His saints – this is God’s continuing call to us!
Encourage, love, and give strength to others – especially when they cry, “God, where are you?”
We all need to know we are not alone and not forgotten.
*Finetown and Weiler’s Farm are informal settlements located 40 kilometers south of Johannesburg, South Africa. They are considered one of the poorest areas of Gauteng.
Image retrieved from Blogs by Christian Women