Normally, rain may not seem exciting or meaningful, but when you’ve lived somewhere where life revolves around the seasons, the imagery becomes so much more profound. In northern Uganda, by the end of the dry season the land was parched and the people were too. The earth seemed to be yearning for some sort of respite. Everyone growing weary and tired from the neverending heat. Dust kicked up everywhere. There is a strange, sad beauty in the dryness, but also its ability to wear on the soul is unrelenting.
Finally around April, the town would begin to buzz with the sweet relief that the rains would be here soon. People began to look for hope as dark clouds appeared in the sky teasing its arrival for weeks…and then finally when those first rains came, life stood still and all of creation collectively let out a sigh of relief. Every plant and person opening themselves to the sky, drinking in the much needed source of life. The earth seemed to be healed in an instant. All evidence of the dry season gone with the blink of an eye.
This year so far has felt much like a dry wilderness. The longer I find myself wandering in this vast empty space, the more desperate I become for some relief and respite. My heart and soul are weary and tired. I am in desperate need of some healing rain.
So far this year has been filled with so many losses, small and great. I have seen the Lord’s goodness so evidently in this season. But watching my grandmother’s health collapse right before my eyes, along with other losses that are still too painful to even give a name to, have hollowed out my soul. I am sure I am not the only one that has looked up at the stars recently and quietly whispered, “Lord, when will the pain end, and your healing begin.”
Like Jeremiah crying out, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? So why has the healing of my dear people not come about?” (Jer 8:22). I have wondered where the balm of Gilead with all its power to soothe and heal is in this darkness.
My heart has so many questions. I do not know why all these things had to happen now as I prepare to leave the states for my first term overseas. I told the Lord long ago I would be obedient to Him and follow wherever He led, even if it meant leaving the ones I love behind. So why all this and why now? These days I just do not understand why He had to break my heart in so many ways as I prepare to go, wasn’t my surrender and obedience enough for Him.
I do not know why He heals some, but not all. Why He allows diseases that rip away the beautiful memories that make this hard life worth living or why He lets our bodies decay until they are painful reminders of what we once were. I do not know why He allows people to come into our lives when their only purpose is to break us and our hearts. There is so much in this wilderness I do not understand.
But what I do know is this season has begun to teach me how to hold the joy and the pain simultaneously, one in each hand. A both/and, not an either/or. I think I can safely say that most of us do not want to feel pain, the reality, however, is: it is a byproduct of the fallen world we call home. But our capacity to know and feel pain allows us to come to know our God and Savior more fully, to experience love and joy on a deeper level. It softens our hearts to those suffering around us in ways we never thought possible. Our soul’s capacity to feel is one of the most divine gifts our Creator breathed into us. And while this year so far may have been one of the most painful I have ever experienced, I never want to live a life where feeling doesn’t exist.
The deep wells of pain and grief will one day give way to the mountaintops of joy and wonder.
The one who made the stars is also the one who breathed His very breath into our lungs. Just as He knows every star that dots the sky, He knows every hair on our head, every tear that wells up and falls from our eyes. The starmaker is deeply concerned about our hearts.
God gave us an incredible gift in Scripture, which gives voice to our pain, but also in His son who stepped out of the light of heaven and became flesh so He could know the struggles of humanity more fully. There is great beauty in the fact that we serve a Savior who deeply knows the human experience. Our legacy is one of great joy in the triumph over death, but this came at great cost and pain.
In a year of so many losses the Lord quietly whispers…I know and I am here through the midst of it all. I know that this wilderness will not last forever. That life with the Lord will be full of many mountains and valleys. God will be there when my beautiful grandmother draws her last breath. He will be there to piece my heart back together from all the brokenness and deep hurt caused by someone I cared about deeply. He will come [like] rain, like the spring showers that water the land (Hosea 6:3). He will heal in this life because that is a fundamental part of the God He is.
May we hold on to the hope, sweet friends, that one day in heaven there will be the tree of life and “its leaves will bring healing to the nations.” (Revelation 22:2) Full, complete healing is coming. Until then may we learn to dance with God through all the joy, pain, and great mysteries of this life. Because as Kate Bowler says so perfectly…
Life is so beautiful. Life is so hard.
Kuc Obed Kedi Sweet Friends. May you see so much deep beauty and wonder in this life.
After penning these words a few weeks ago, my family recently received news that my grandfather passed away. In the wake of our loss, these words feel all the more true. One day death will be swallowed up in victory (1 Cor 15:54). But until that day, may we allow ourselves to feel the full weight of grief, knowing our God will meet us there. Our hearts will greatly miss my pop-pop. May we find joy in the 88 beautiful years he spent on this earth.
And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
– Job 1:21 –