This morning the continent of Africa has been on my mind and on my heart. I received a letter from Jerry Fowler the new President of the Save Darfur Coalition. The letter pleas for help on behalf of the people of Sudan, whose plight and suffering is so horrific, it is nearly unimaginable.
But, though I cannot imagine what it would be like to be torn from my home, to watch my livelihood burn to the ground and to have hope stolen from my hand as I flee my city through terrible heat while my countrymen are murdered and my countrywomen are raped and tortured – though I cannot imagine such things, they still happen every day in Sudan.
2.5 million people driven from their homes. Can you imagine? I can’t. But those are the facts. And hundreds of thousands dead.
There is some good news. Humanitarian aid is reaching the displaced, effective awareness campaigns are creating an outpour of international will to denounce what is happening. And yet the violence continues and is starting to escalate. How do I not despair at the situation, and, because I am so far away from the drama, what can I do to help?
I don’t know the answer to these questions. I am reminded of a line from a poem I wrote a few years ago as I considered the irony of my seemingly important personal worries made insignificant in light of greater suffering, especially suffering of children, around the world:
He will not go off on one of his delightful little tangents and deny someone bread.
This morning I read a Psalm and the questions on my mind were like those of the psalmist:
Why, O Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor –
let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.
God has all the resource and power to rid the world of the Janjaweed. Read all of Psalm 10, and they are perfectly described: “They sit in ambush in the villages; in hiding places they murder the innocent….”
The psalmist wrestles with God’s apparent lack of action against the gross iniquities of the wicked. He struggles with the tension of God’s omniscience and omnipotence and how it factors into a fallen and broken world where He has permitted humanity to act as agents of their own will.
“But you do see!” the psalmist concludes:
Indeed you note trouble and grief,
that you may take it into your hands;
the helpless commit themselves to you;
you have been the helper of the orphan.
I remember sitting in a meeting with Joseph Ayok who spoke to displaced refugees who had found help and refuge in Canada about the violence in Sudan, men and women who still struggle and miss their home. He himself was victim of the evil work of the Janjaweed militias, losing family members to their murderous cruelty. But he spoke of forgiveness and testified that he could see that God was teaching his people grace and humility and using their displacement to bring them together to transcend their tribalism and enter a unity they would otherwise not share in Sudan.
The suffering needs to stop. I’m encouraged from despair by the words that God “notes the trouble and grief, and takes it into his hands.”
I pray that the world will see this happen in our day, and that many people will reach out their hands, and with God bring healing to a hurt and terrorized people.