“You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
but you will restore me to life again
and lift me up from the depths of the earth.
You restore me to even greater honor
And comfort me once again.” Psalm 71:20-21
God’s plan for our restoration is totally mind boggling, counter-intuitive and altogether peculiar. As humans, we continue to mess up, we continue to miss the mark and disappoint the God who wants to give us gifts beyond even our wildest desires. Though He is angry with our injustices and the things we do to ourselves, one another, and the earth he gave us to manage, He wants to make a way, because His love is that great.
He proclaims this message to the Israelites in Jeremiah,
“This is what the Lord says:
‘The whole land will be ruined,
but I will not destroy it completely.
The earth will mourn
And the heavens will be draped in black
Because of my decree against my people.
I have made up my mind and I cannot change it.” Jeremiah 4:27-28
God is mourning the behavior of the Israelites throughout all of the earth, but he will not destroy it completely though that is what they deserve — that is what we deserve. He wants to teach the lesson that sin is wrong, but as the Psalmist proclaims, He is about the business of restoration. Though our actions deserve the depths, God wants to bring us back again. We deserve death, so He died that we might have abundant life in relationship with the Father. That is amazing, may we stand in awe of what our great God has done for us.
Yet as life comes at each of us, it is hard to remember this message of restoration. Every day there are places of brokenness in our world, things that are not right, and there are no easy solutions. Just last night in my small group, we were going around individually and proclaiming the areas we want to acknowledge God more in our lives and live out His mission. But again and again, as we talked through our daily lives and prayed for one another, I was deeply reminded of the brokenness in our human lives.
One of my friends in particular is an amazing woman who has felt the call to work at the largest hospital in Zambia. Though this hospital was meant to do great things and has tons of potential, it has been overwhelmed with the brokenness of our world. As the population in Lusaka has sky-rocketed since it was built, the hospital has remained relatively the same size with no additional staff to handle all of the additional patients.
I visited there with one of my friends just a couple of weeks after moving to Zambia, and she took me through the malnutrition and labor and delivery floor. The conditions are overwhelming, it’s a large building that feels like it was built by someone in the 50’s and there have been no updates since. Utter chaos is the only way I can describe the atmosphere with doctors running here and there, patients waiting in lines down every hallway, and sickness and destruction seems to be running rampant around every corner. There aren’t enough beds, there isn’t enough medicine, but most of the people have no where left to go. This hospital is the last stop after being referred from one doctor to the next, it’s many people’s only hope at getting better. If only the system could handle all the people and needs.
Locals often refer to this place as the waiting room for death. People are afraid to go there because of experiences they have had with family members or friends, but it is the only place equipped to handle the worst of situations, and so the doctors often see people in the worst case scenario. The doctors are tired, and they have seen so much death, I can only imagine how hard it would be for them to let themselves feel for each patient. My friend who works there can feel the weight of this as well. She has faced death and sickness before but here, it’s just different.
It seems too painful, too much for a human to handle. And my friend, though struggling through how to process this broken system, knows God is still in this place. As we prayed over her that she would see God there, I was at a loss for words just picturing all of the despair. I know God is there, but my heart longs to see Him more.
“And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it is here now, when the dead will hear my voice — the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live.” John 5:25
May we listen to our God this week. May we proclaim His life saving grace and restoration in all of our brokenness. May we see Him in places where the rest of the world says He is not. May we let Him be the Lord of our lives, including our fears and the darkness that is hard to shake.