There are people who God brings into your life for a certain period, or a longer duration, that have a definite impact on your life. Karisse Schilling is one of them. Through all that she has endured in life – her faith and her vision of Jesus never waivers. She now works in a ministry in Oregon (may have to go visit, she says it is really pretty).
Read this…and take heart – Jesus has overcome the world!
I have often been stopped in my tracks when people ask me questions like: “If God is good and loving then why do children suffer? Why was I abused? Why did my mom die? Why do people live in poverty? Why does trafficking happen? Why are there famines and wars?” I have always struggled with how to answer those questions. How do you help someone reconcile a loving God with the poverty, abuse and suffering we see in the world today?
I don’t remember struggling with that issue personally until 2003, which I dubbed “the year from hell.” I remember lying in bed, recovering from cancer surgery, while my mom was on the recliner in the living room, enduring the fruitless side effects of chemo. I remember my journal entries to God that consisted of: “Don’t let her die. Please don’t let her die.” And “I hate you, why are you doing this? (I don’t hate you. I’m sorry. I love you…) I hate you!!!” I remember thinking: “Screw this whole Christian thing. I’m not doing it anymore if You allow this kind of stuff to happen.” I couldn’t understand why God was allowing my world to fall apart when I had followed Him my entire life. I had never experienced such indescribable pain before. I wanted to wake up from the horrible nightmare, which was my reality: My mom was dying and I could be too.
My personal struggles in life led me to deal with whether or not I believed God was good. How could a loving God let my mom die when I still needed her? She would never meet my husband or hold my children. This was just not fair. I was young and called to be a missionary to Calcutta. INDIA, I tell you! Who is willing to go to India? NO ONE! So, how could He let me get cancer?
It was then that I finally understood why so many struggle with God when it comes to pain and suffering. If He is good, then why doesn’t He end all our pain and all the poverty of the world? I have often wished God would come down in the form of Mary Poppins, snap His Godly fingers, and clean up everything. A good spoonful of sugar would do the world, well, a world of good.
I think that many of our questions to God regarding pain, suffering, poverty, the poor and needy come down to how we view God and what we believe about Him. Through my past struggles with God on this topic I have determined a few things in my heart. I don’t believe that God is distant or silent. He may feel that way at times, but He never is. I don’t believe that God inflicts pain on us so that we can learn a valuable lesson. I do, however, believe that He can take extremely painful situations and bring good from them. There’s a distinction there that is quite important
I believe that God sees the AIDS orphan. I believe God sees the abused wife and child. I believe God sees both the trafficked teenager and the mother wondering how she will feed her children. I believe God sees this day in and day out with no relief; I believe His heart breaks over it and His tears water the earth. Suffering was not His idea and is not what He wants for His creation. He wants to bring an end to it, and He wants His children to be comforted and loved. I also believe that He has a plan. He has chosen to use us to take action and love the least of these as if they were Him. We are Plan A, and there is no Plan B.
I had this vision during a prayer time that has burned itself in my minds eye. In it I saw this dark, dirty shack. It was covered with cobwebs and constructed of leftover pieces of wood and metal. A bare light bulb swung from the ceiling, not giving much light, and casting an eerie glow. In the corner stood a little girl, about the age of 5, with dark brown wavy hair that hung to her waist. She faced the corner, with her hands over her eyes and shoulders hunched in fear. She was wearing only a tattered white nightgown and her feet were bare. I had the sense that she was kidnapped, abused, afraid and vulnerable. Suddenly, out of nowhere Jesus, who was dressed as a fireman, burst into the room. He ran straight for the little girl and threw His arms around her in an embrace. She didn’t move and I suddenly realized that Jesus was almost like a ghost; she couldn’t physically feel Him or see Him. Then, He frantically looked over His shoulder and, with tears streaming from His desperate eyes, screamed: “CAN I GET SOME HELP OVER HERE?” It was then that I realized that Jesus literally is with the poor, the weak and the needy. I had been wondering why He left them abandoned. However, I realized His arms are around them and He weeps at the injustice they face daily. He wanted me to help. He wanted OUR help.
Despite knowing that He never leaves any of us, and knowing He weeps with us, I’m still overwhelmed with the pain in the world. I struggle with the unbalance of wealth, nutrition, food and doctors. I don’t understand why I have so much opportunity simply because of where I was born, and others are in poverty simply because of where they were born. Many times I feel weighed down with the greatness of the task at hand: How to change how the entire world THINKS so that we can bring an end to slavery, pain, suffering, and needless death.
I wish things were different. I wish that I could make people aware of trafficking and they would instantly be involved in stopping it. I wish I could say to abusers: “Hey that’s bad!” and they would respond with: “Oh my, I’m quitting right now! I’m going to tell all my trafficker/abuser friends to stop too.” I wish that everyone shared their resources and looked out for others so that no one had to go to bed hungry. I wish that no child had to suffer, and that God would zap the bad guys, causing it to instantly change their ways. I wish that people valued themselves and valued others the way that God does. I wish we lived in a world full of people who thought of others before they thought of themselves. I wish everyone, including me, lived more simply so others could simply live.
But You, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.
Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise, says the Lord. I will protect them from those that malign them.
Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.