Well over a month ago I started writing about Ligar. She was a bright young university student I met, who became horribly disabled and distressed from Tuberculosis in her brain. I was going to tell of the suffering her Christian family endured though her 18 month illness as they were plunged into poverty due to outrageous medical costs and the full time care she required. I was going to share the disturbing thoughts I had about her right to choose, even choose death, as she screamed in fear and disorientation, refusing any physical touch from me. I was going to ask unwelcome questions about her sudden death soon after a change in her medication that was never investigated.
But as I wrestled with my words, my questions about suffering, injustice and God’s place in this particular story where overtaken by news of a greater tragedy unfolding in Japan. And then the conflict, fear and mayhem right across the Middle East was brought to our attention.
This year has brought misery around the world on a scale impossible to comprehend. Does the everyday pain I see here in Cambodia become diminished at all in the big picture of things?
I no longer wanted to write just another sad story. What good could come of that? Does anyone want to hear more miserable tales with messy endings that raise more questions than answers?
But I remembered Ligar’s mother at the funeral and was challenged by her confident faith. She said that she had a dream in the weeks before her daughters’ death in which she felt Jesus was showing her that he would take Ligar to be with him. She said that, although she is very sad, she has peace and trusts God for Ligar. She is still convinced of God’s love and goodness.
Holding resolutely to the belief that God is good and God is loving despite being surrounded by tragedy is in fact a bold protest against the darkness of death and destruction.
We are tempted to despair but by a prayerful refusal to be dragged into hopelessness we can take our stand against all that is evil. Worshiping the God who saves and trusting in his ultimate restoration of all things becomes an act of defiance to the spirit of the age.
In confusing times such as these Peter encourages us to simply ‘commit ourselves to our faithful Creator and continue to do good’ (1Peter 4:19).