06 September 2004

Journal Reflections, Calcutta

It has been a difficult month. As God takes me by the hand and leads me deeper into suffering, there are more questions than answers. Walking the station every day, I can’t help but think, “Jesus, when will you come?”

At the station, I see a young woman, probably my age, sitting against the pillar on platform 13. She is there every day. She is skinny, but other than that, healthy and clean. She has nowhere else to go, so here she sits, every day. One day I stooped down next to her and handed her some food. She took it and with her free hand she covered her face and began weeping. “What happened?” I ask, not knowing what else to do. She continues crying. “It’s ok, it’s ok,” is all I know to say. Soon I have to get up and leave her. Where can she go? What can this little bit of food do to help? What does she go through every night on the platform that I don’t see?

There are children all over the station. There are several little girls around the ages of 8 or 9 years old, who have baby brothers and sisters tied to their small hips with pieces of cloth. They are the caretakers, running around the train station all day long, begging for food and money, shoes, clothes and medicine. “Where is your mom?” I ask, as we give the babies antibiotic eardrops and clean their heads, which are covered with painful infected scabies. “She’s at work,” they answer, and point to my bag, asking for food. But we’ve had to make a policy not to give to children, because there are easily a hundred around, and all are hungry. W

e try to focus on trying to find the sick and dying, try to set some boundaries and hope that these kids won’t slip through the cracks, that someone will make their mission to care for them. Meanwhile, these kids continue to grow up hungry, taking care of themselves and their siblings. Meanwhile, it is not uncommon to have extra rooms for all of the toys amassed by kids in the States. Meanwhile, when my “work” is done I will leave the station, make dinner, and go to sleep with a full stomach.

I cannot say the words, “Jesus loves you,” and leave their hands empty, leave their wounds undressed and their bodies unclothed, so sometimes I pass by. We cannot possibly help everyone here who has need. And the ones we do help, are they understanding the whole point of this help? That in addition to caring about their physical plight, we care about their hearts? Do they know that God loves them?

How do we live in a place where so much of what we see is the reality of suffering, the bondage of injustice, the oppression of death, and loneliness pressing in from every side? I look at my surroundings knowing full well that there is another reality that I know to be the truth but that I cannot see: that of the Kingdom, of victory and healing, of integrity and shalom, of wholeness, fellowship and love. I try to put these two truths next to each other, and it doesn’t work. I try to fit them both in my heart and mind, and it doesn’t work.

Yet again I must surrender, and allow Him to do the work, whatever it is going to be. I was thinking about this today, and he gave me a prayer. I am feeling helpless and believing even though I don’t feel that I have the faith to believe that those who are dying see his love. Here is my prayer for them, please pray with me for the dying in Calcutta.

Prayer for you

Before you go, I wish you would blink your eyes so I know you’ve heard. Squeeze my hand, shed a tear, give me some sign that you understand.

What I wanted to do is give you His love through my hands.
I wanted you to know that these burdens could be lifted and you could be forgiven. Did you know that He can heal you, save you, and give you new life?

Did you know that the pain of what has happened to you can be transformed—that He can turn it into beauty, into jewels in your crown? Did you know that He is always with you, that He is the only one who will never forsake you?

Before you go, I pray that you understand. My faith is so small, and I should not wonder and worry that my Father’s spirit has come in and taken hold of your heart, has stolen it, and is holding it even now. Maybe He is sheltering you in his wing, He is hiding you, and the storms are already over.
How can we know what the mighty and gentle Lord of all has done in secret? How can we know how far His love reaches, even into the unseen and most wounded places?

My prayer is that I believe for you, because I have seen Him come to my own heart. I have heard that He became human, that he stooped low, that He took on my sin and told me I was His child.
I believe that you are beautiful to Him, believe that He formed you with His own hands, and that you are, and have always been, His. My prayer is that before you go, you would see and hear and taste and feel what it means to belong to Him.