I can't remember if the sun heated up the earth that day. With the warmth of a million bodies radiating in the air around me and sweat dripping down my back as though I had just gone on a run, we could've been in Antarctica and I would've never known. Studying my black chacos, I fought my inner urge to look up. For hiding my face under my hat made me feel more human than looking up and out onto dark faces pinned askew in astonishment, made me feel less vulnerable when I couldn't see their iPhones pointed my way.
There were voices trying to calm me down, saying encouraging words about how the bus- that said they'd be here in ten minutes two hours ago- was really coming now. I couldn't hear them though. Drowning everything out, my brain could only focus my nail polish that was chipping off, not the sound waves that came from my peers.
"Where are you God?" I asked myself.
As most of you know, I traveled to the great country of India this past summer. (More details on India located in my latest post- In the Darkest Corner of the World: Part One) I remember in the days leading up to the trip, I was ecstatic. Imagining the hand of God touch people, converting them in front of our eyes, I anticipated a trip that was sure to grow His kingdom in incredible ways. But as I’ve briefly mentioned in my past posts, this thought never became a reality to my team and I. Instead, a different set of events occurred.
Meeting hundreds of children and their teachers and managers, we didn’t necessarily share the Good News with them like most would assume. Instead, we got to experience the joy that they had as well as their stories.
Each day was filled up two ways. On one end, we’d spend our days hanging out with school children- singing songs with them and attempting to learn common phrases from their language. Traveling from one school to the next, we talked with children who’s ages ranged from three or four years old to sixteen and seventeen years old. And on the other end, we’d spend a couple hours each day talking to the leaders of the organization, learning about where the kids came from and how they got there.
For my team and I, playing with the kids was an absolute joy. Seeing their faces glow as they smiled and hearing them say a name in .025 seconds when we asked who they were was so beautiful to witness. And in being educated on their background, elevated our love for them and their smiles.
Coming from a caste called the ‘Dalits’, the children at the schools we visited were known by society as “untouchables”. Spat on, living quarters pushed into the dirtiest sections of the city, and seen with no respect, the Dalits survive their days by sifting through trash cans for their daily meals, sleeping under their tarp tents at night. They are beggars among the alleys, they are children aging no more than four caring a four month old baby in their arms across the street. And yet, the children that the organization has intercepted, are the most joyful beings that I have and will probably ever see in my lifetime. They come from nothing, and seem as though they have everything. And what’s more, there is also a specific group of girls birthed from this group who are chosen at the age of five to become Jogini’s. From what we learned, Jogini’s are girls who’s parents were very poor and couldn’t afford the price to raise a daughter. Instead of worrying about their child, they dedicate her to a Goddess in a temple, setting her up for a lifetime of prostetution from the age that she physically becomes a woman to the day she dies. Rescued by the same organization, these girls escape a horrible fate and are now able to look towards a brighter future.
After learning these people’s stories, I remember facing a mix of emotions. While I did have a new level of empathy towards the little girls and boys I was surrounded by, there was also a seed of anger that was planted inside me. Looking at the horrible situation that those children were facing and seeing how people have so quickly marked India off their list to go to because of XYZ, made me infuriated. While I know the government has created a tough situation for believers and organizations in India, I still couldn’t comprehend the statistics (83% Hindi of 1.3 billion) and the lack of attention people back home have towards them.
Seeing the situation, I not only got mad at the people back home, but also at God. There was such a large amount of people that needed Him, that were facing unimaginable situations. Why did it seem like He wasn’t giving them attention? Did He not love them?
Truth is He did. He so very much loved them.
And it was sitting in that market that I realized it.
After questioning how He could allow all these horrible things happen to these innocent souls, questioning why He hadn't done anything, I realized that I was looking at the situation all wrong. While the problems they faced were very hard, I neglected to take a look at the size of my own God.
Jeremiah 32:27 says "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?". I love this verse because it so perfectly displays the 180 that my mind did in that market. Broken hearted, I saw how awful the situation was and saw the pain they faced. But instead of seeing the issues around me as big and impossible to tackle, I looked at how big my God was, that he wasn’t silent, He was screaming His love to the people of India through our smiles and laughter. My God didn't abandon these people, He was running hard and fast after every single one of their souls through dreams and testimonies and the Believers living there.
I think there are many times in our lives where we question God's presence and love for us. Whether you are among a season of pain, shame, death, illness, or even just silence, you know that gut feeling you get when you look at the circumstances before you and up at the God above. You may be doing everything right; you go to church every Sunday, read your bible for a few minutes each morning, choose non explicit music over rap, talk to your friends about Him. You're running after Him and seeking His love constantly, and yet you face another trial, another season of pain. Seeing the tough situation God is allowing you to go through, you question not only your strength, but God's as well.
"Where are you God" you ask, staring up at the ceiling in your room. You want God to answer you, tell you how exactly to navigate the rough waves ahead of you, but you hear nothing. You want to feel God's presence and love, but you feel alone.
If you get this picture I'm trying to paint, if you've been or are going through this right now, I just want to say you're not alone. Craving understanding from God and His plan as well as comfort in those difficult times is something I so get. But I know just sitting here trying to type out my sympathies won't get you anywhere. Instead, I want you to have freedom in the knowledge that God is bigger than your problems and in time will solve them, just like how one day every person in that country will have heard of Him.
And not only is He working on the big picture of your life, but in the small ones as well. When you face the death of a loved one, when you are at a consolation with a doctor for treatment on an illness, when you hear yet another time from an organization or specific person that yet still- you do not measure up to their standards, when you go to bed at night and are faced with built up worries and anxieties and shame that cascade over your brain like a plastic bag- slowly suffocating you, God is right there, holding you through it all. Through small and large He is there.
You see because even though in the darkest corner of the world I felt like a lone soldier in God's battle, he ended up placing me among strong believers that hugged me with His own strength. And just like how He provided a light in my life when all else was dark, He does the same for you.
Because God isn't silent, but so very visible in your life. By walking you through trials, He is actually in a quite intimate position with you as He is constantly shaping you into a person that is more like Him.
So today, I pray that you have faith in the darkest corner of your world that God is near, He is not silent, and He loves you so very much.