There it lay, in black and white, front page of our city’s Herald, “guilty”. This caging adult male, not just any offender, but a relative of the foster daughter we had for a year.
His girlfriend is also in jail, thirty years.
It’s one thing to read about suffering…it’s quite another to hold scared hands, wipe pain-stricken tears, or hear first-hand the real-life nightmares of a little girl looking for Jesus.
Justice is served, but my rejoicing gets cut short. Our foster daughter’s victory, gets stepped on by headlines a few pages over…
”Five day old baby starved, appearing to be mistreated; taken into custody.”
The headlines can pierce us, and sometimes the pain of it all is so daunting we want to close our eyes, and turn away, so the travesties of it all won’t suffocate us with grief.
I open my hands and let the paper slip to the floor; the low place, Christ sees. “You cannot save them all”…my Dad’s words ring through this Savior complex.
And I wonder if flying to the imprisoned children of China, sitting in orphanages in the dirt of Guatemala was easier?
At least orphan care cross culture allows escapism, freedom, the return home, when anguish and hopelessness wants to crush us.
But with time, our comfy beds of contentment can go from a refuge, to a prison; and the contentment found in “not knowing” actually paralyzes us in fear, hindering us from entering others stories.
We close ourselves off; dispensing compensations that don’t dent us, to ease our guilty consciousness, justifying our avoidance of it all.
And oh how I have tried tokens, charity, and tossing crumbs instead of getting my hands dirty; until the One who got low and traded His cloak for work clothes, a servants rag, found me.
Leaving heaven, He entered our pain, delivering us, a broken people from our hopelessness.
Shouldn’t we go and do likewise?
Kneeling low, He washed feet. And of anyone…Jesus could have run, isolate from the pain.
But, He didn’t.
He stepped into the pain, into the hurt of other people. He didn’t fear, retreat, while justifying His distance…like we do.
He touched the lepers, lifted the helpless, reached to the ones forgotten; lost, most broken and begging desperately.
He wrote in the dust, picked up the cloth, and entered the tomb, bravely facing the cross, for us.
He was God. Didn’t He count the cost? Of course He did.
Scripture tells us…
“Be imitators of me, as I imitate Him.” 1 Cor 11:1
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matt 16:24
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to turn from the pain.
Picking up the paper fallen, I read every word of it, shutting out the voices whispering tauntingly, “stop reaching”. But still, I will keep reaching those He puts in front of me, and stop keeping heartbreak at arms distance; out of protection or because it makes me feel better.
I want to hear their stories, nurture their wounds, but most of all point people to a Jesus who walked among the heartbreak and offered the healing balm of His love.
For I was “the least of these” and I thank God…He didn’t keep me at arm’s length.
Who can you reach out and share Christ’s love with today?
Though born, raised, and still living only miles from where she grew up, Jen's heart lies in the nations. Jen loves the beautiful tapestry found in the wide diversity of people, different cultures, and all nations. Jen and her husband have been married twenty years, and have parented fifteen kids and counting; twelve foster, one adopted, and two bios. Her multi-racial family reflects her passion for unity, desire for faith without walls, and missional mindset to share both the gospel and the power of redemption to a world desperately needing the hope found in Jesus Christ. Jen and her husband have led in a variety of ministries; including prayer, small groups, children's, and women’s. Jen advocates for the orphan as a board member for the non-profit, A New Song; and loves doing missions work internationally, along with her family. You can find Jen writing about faith, while challenging her readers at her blog, Rich Faith Rising, as well as at tweeting faith-filled messages @Jen_Avellaneda . Jen is also on facebook.
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