Friday, April 20, 2012

"If one part suffers, every part suffers with it"

As I finish my intensive today many of you may be able to guess that my heart is heavy. It seems like this happens a lot as I study development. The pain and the suffering of the world is put at my fingertips as we try to learn how to best serve and help, though the answers are never straightforward or complete. The last two weeks were emotionally and physically exhausting. The subject matter of refugees and relief aid (that is, bringing medical care, food, water, and other basic needs to people in war torn or disaster ridden areas) is a heavy one and on the last day of class it was almost too much to bear. We heard stories presented on the refugee situation in Sudan and the long, winding lines of people that need help. We went through the entire conflict in Darfur and as we analyzed the situation to understand why it has continued for so long I could not get the face of the refugee out of my mind. These people who have been displaced from their homes, who have seen horrendous atrocities committed before their eyes, and who are under constant danger, are my brothers and sisters. They are children of God, just like you and me. They are people with rights, with dignity, and with feelings. They are my family. 

One of the heartbreaking parts of the intensive was also realizing that working with refugees and relief is not the place for me. Millions of people are suffering around the world, and have been for some time, but I know that I cannot be the one to go work in those situations. I naturally take the emotional pain of others onto myself and I would not survive carrying the burden of so many people. The high risk, the emotional and physical stress factors, and the conditions of the work would render me ineffective on the field. It takes a certain kind of person to work in relief and it burdens me to know I cannot be that person. 

But my professor is always so gracious with us after he loads us down with the burdens of such a complicated operation as relief aid. He pointed us to Peter and the last thing Jesus asked of him. Jesus said to "feed my sheep." He did not tell Peter to "save my sheep" nor to "feed every single sheep on the planet." I must realize that I cannot be the savior of the world. I cannot put food in the mouths of every displaced and hurting person, but I can be faithful to God's call. I can be faithful in prayer and I can be faithful to serve those around me that need serving. 

It is a heavy burden to carry, when one knows the suffering of countless people in the world. I can only pray that Jesus will return quickly to end all of this suffering, and in the meantime I can pray for the refugees and displaced people in the world. I can pray for reconciliation and healing, for safety and the meeting of needs. And I can pray that God will use me to be faithful to His call.

I ask that tonight you join me in prayer for those suffering and those working with the suffering. We know that these are the places that Jesus spends time, with the outcast, the forgotten, and the hurting. Let us not forget that these are our brothers and sisters who are dying and suffering throughout the world at this very moment. 

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’" Matthew 25:40


  1. I love the way you share your heart- It makes me cry to read "these are the places that Jesus spends time", and it makes me wonder how many churches are missing the presence of jesus each Sunday - because they actually don't care about the people Jesus is hanging out with.

  2. ...i am praying with you meredith...and so is the Spirit...i love you...elaine/ccww