Oct 21, 2010

a song for every one of us

Growing up in church, we were taught that Jesus was the answer to all our problems. We were taught that there was a circle-shaped hole in our heart and that we had tried to fill it with the square pegs of sex, drugs, and rock and roll; but only the circle peg of Jesus could fill our hole. I became a Christian based, in part, on that promise, but the hole never really went away. To be sure, I like Jesus, and I still follow him, but the idea that Jesus will make everything better is a lie. It's basically biblical theology translated into the language of infomercials. The truth is, the apostles never really promise Jesus is going to make everything better here on earth. Can you imagine an infomercial with Paul, testifying to the amazing product of Jesus, saying that he once had power and authority, and since he tried Jesus he's been moved from prison to prison, beaten, and routinely bitten by snakes? I don't think many people would be buying that product. Peter couldn't do any better. He was crucified upside down, by some reports. Stephen was stoned outside the city gates. John, supposedly, was boiled in oil. It's hard to imagine how a religion steeped in so much pain and sacrifice turned into a promise for earthly euphoria. I think Jesus can make things better, but I don't think he is going to make things perfect. Not here, and not now.

I find myself caught in the idea of our stories. We all tell stories with our lives, and along the way we intersect with other stories that will forever stick with us. Most recently, in living in Haiti, I am intersecting with entirely different sorts of stories. They are wrenching and beautiful and painful and altogether astounding. They have faces: a dying 17 year old boy, the man with the feet, the baby with seizures. They have names: Clermond, Pierre, Alexandre, and now - Alix.

About 15 minutes from Mission of Hope you can find a boy named Alix. He is 14 years old, and six months ago he fell on his chin and fractured his jaw upward. Since that day he has been unable to open his mouth. Living in extreme pain, he has eaten through a straw every day for six months and speaks words through clenched teeth.

Once again, the same problems. Not enough resources, not enough access, not enough education. And once again, I find myself asking the same question: "Why God do these things keep happening?"

And that is essentially all God says to Job. God doesn't explain pain philosophically or even list its benefits. God says to Job, Job, I know what I am doing, and this whole thing isn't about you.

Alix saw a dentist in our clinic who was so broken over his case that he went home, asked an oral surgeon friend to help, and set up a surgical team to return to Haiti in order to take care of Alix's case, as well as other maxillofacial surgeries. The dentist and his dentist wife (power couple!) covered all of the costs and after many weeks, I sent Alix and his mother with the money to buy bus tickets for the 5 hours journey to the hospital. I could not help but celebrate - Alix was finally getting proper care.

I received an e-mail from my contact at the other hospital tonight - Alix's surgery is too risky. They will be unable to preform the operation. He needs to go to the States in order to have the appropriate treatment done.

I found myself surprisingly more upset than I would have expected. I think of Alix and his mother, so thankful for the idea that the end of this trauma was in sight. I think of the delays, of getting passports, of the letters that need to be written, of the longer wait. I think of the disappointment.

What I love about the true gospel of Jesus, though, is that it offers hope. Paul has hope our souls will be made complete. It will happen in heaven, when there will be a wedding and a feast. I wonder if that's why so many happy stories end in weddings and feasts. Paul says Jesus is the hope that will not disappoint. I find that comforting. That helps me get through the day, to be honest. It even makes me content somehow. Maybe that's what Paul meant when he said he'd learned the secret of contentment.

I say it often, but I have to remember that the story does not end here. The mouth of injustice may be gaping, but it will not remain that way. This too shall pass, and this too shall be made right.

The pain made the city more beautiful. The story made us different characters than if we'd showed up at the ending an easier way. It made me think about the hard lives so many people have had, the sacrifices they've endured, and how those people will see heaven differently from those of us who have had easier lives.


All above italicized excerpts were taken from Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.


  1. Thanks again Sarah! I read that book during the months I was TRYING to get to Haiti...crazy I'm here now. Hope to see you soon.

  2. So somehow I've ended up on your blog and I'm SO wishing I would have gotten the chance to know you better while you were in Kansas City...thankful for the few conversations that we had, but even more for your heart and the way you are living the hard road of following Jesus. Praying tonight that Jesus meets you with sweet moments of peace and hope in the midst of pain.

  3. praying for passports, dear one.