silent night, silent painm

Daily Life

When we were not so educated and  when we had less, it seemed we relied solely on the kindness of the human spirit.  The church played the largest role.  Frankly we relied  on each other.  When someone in our community had a baby, the women got together, prepared  dinners for that new Mom,  supported her, when a family had a sick child, locals rallied together and cared for that mother, as she carried the burden of that sick child on her heart, as if it were their own.  When a family’s home burned to the ground we took them into our own home and shared what we had with them.  We gathered on Sundays and shared a meal, we spoke about what we did throughout that week, and how out lives were going and it wasn’t “skin talk”, it was meant from the heart.  We were in touch with each other.  We shared our dreams and our hopes, what we wished for our children and our nation.   We really listened to each other and knew what was going on in each others lives.  If a husband was abusing his wife, the men in the community took him out back and “addressed” the issue.  We had empathy for the hurting and the wounded, the messed up,  “those people” we liked to call them.   Cause let me tell you, we are all messed up in some form or the other.  And if you are one of the lucky ones who have been spared, I am sure you are privy to loving someone very close to you who was not spared.  I heard a missionary tell a story about being in Malawi and when someone has sorrow they are never left alone. When tragedy comes, the furniture  is taken out of the house so that people can come in.  They sit for hours, no one saying anything, your presence is everything: I am sorry, you are not alone.  I wish I had that when we were going thru our hard times, silence from the church folks would have been much better than the answers they had to our suffering.  They were trite, shallow and insincere.  And the intellectuals were not much better, they wanted an analytical, detailed, comprehensible explanation of everything in life!  That just made me tired typing it!!!  We just needed someone to sit with us and feel our pain, and have human compassion on us.  I am certain, God did not intend for us to be alone when life comes along and knocks our feet out from under us.  When life is not certain anymore, what you thought you could count on, was now  a distant memory.  I remember laying in bed, my knees pulled to my chest crying, thinking God their is no way out, my life is forever changed, and I don’t think I am strong enough to change with it.  It has changed me.  We have been abandoned by everyone, not only abandon, but judged as if we have done something wrong.  God where are you?  Why can’t I hear you, why are you silent?   God you are our only hope out.  As I prayed and drifted off to sleep I thought God if I  live thru the night,  I will determine to just simply live one day at a time.  And when I come across those that are hurting, I will pass no judgement, I will offer no advice, no catchy lil phrases, I will just simply, take their burden as if it was mine.  Sometimes silence can be soothing,  God whispers in the silence, but you have to be still and quiet to hear him.  We as American are some loud people, quiet kills us!! We fill our lives with noise and things, but so often I think it is to fill the void of the human connection and the hurt we feel in our lives.  The noise and busy-ness zaps our souls.  I found when I was my weakest and I could only get a whisper out, and life’s pain was too hard to bear, and I stopped and listened, was when that still small inner voice,  spoke, and calmed my soul.  And a peace, peace that went beyond my circumstances, losing my home, seeing a child almost die, no job security, all these things that should have caused my soul to be in utter collapse, caused me to come to a place of calm. Sometimes, only for a moment, but, a moment, is sometimes all it takes to keep you going one more day.   The same missionary I spoke of  above told the story of a lil girl named Damalise.  I will never think of Christmas again without thinking of her.  It happened on the African Bible College campus in Malawi.  53 children from the Academy had lined up at the back of the chapel and had begun singing Silent Night as they entered, each carrying a little candle.  Before the first child reached the stage they heard screams from the back of the room.  When they turned, several of the children’s lambs costumes were on fire.  The staff grab several of children as they ran past them, on fire, and smothered the flames with their bare hands, and bodies.  They looked up and saw another girl, Damalise, fully ablaze.  Several women had backed away from her because her costume had exploded into a literal fireball.  The parents had used a glue, easily accessable, but highly flammable, to glue the cotton balls onto the sheep costumes.  As they waited at the back they bumped into each other, and sat each other on fire.  They burned as if they had been doused with gasoline.  The missionary ran toward Damalise, pulled her to the ground, strangely he didn’t fell the heat or pain as he plunged his hands into the flames.  Several other men joined him as they beat the flames out with their bare hands.  They all ended up with 3rd degree burns on their hands, arms, and necks.  He said once the pain set it, it was excruciating.  But nothing compared to what lil 11 yr old Damalise sustained.  Her skin was peeled back in large masses on her legs, arms, torso and face.  As her father carried her to the car, what she repeated over and over as she cried out in agony, echoes to this day in his mind, I’m going to die, I’m going to die.  He said he tried to comfort her, but his word were hollow.  Five children caught fire that night, but four days later Damalise died.  The day after Damalise died the missionary and his wife went to her home.  All the furniture was taken out and it was dimly lit.  Rugs were scattered all around, everyone slipped there shoes off and sat on the floor with their friends and family—in silence.  They were simply there to share in the darkest night of that family’s life.  The women quietly wept; some would go outside to wail.  The men sat somber.  The Malawians sit in silence with one another when life is dark to say, “We care about you, we love you, we are with you.  When you hurt, we hurt”.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have relationships like that, to know the night may be dark, but you don’t have to sit alone.  No trite sayings, no one pretending to have the answer for why these things happen, no judging.  Life hurts, pain is very real and suffering is all around us, but I love what author Philip Yancey asks in his book, Where is God? Answer: “He has been there from the beginning…. He has joined us.  He has hurt and bled and cried and suffered.  He has dignified for all time those who suffer, by sharing their pain”.  We have, falsely, made the Christian faith about creeds and laws and statutes, what it is really about is God not only seeing our suffering, but having to send an innocent Man to suffer for us and that Man brought God the most intolerable suffering He has ever felt, because He willingly took the ugliest part of us, the most ugly, the most dreadful and absorbed it into Himself.  God saw it and wepted, because He had sent Him.  Anyone who speaks of God without speaking of His suffering does not know what the message of Christianity is.  And, because He has felt such pains He is always, ALWAYS, keenly aware of those who are suffering.  He sits, often for years, and bears our pain with us!  One of the greatest and most touching requirements God makes of those claiming to honor Him is that He demands that when we look at others we see them as if we were looking at Him.  We treat them as if we were dealing with God Himself.  We love them as if we were loving God!  Seems so contradictory that God would make all those rules and yet demand that we love all those who are replacing the Rules, but that was the point, we have All broken the Rules!  If we understood that then we would be people who never have any trouble embracing our friends, as well as our enemies.  Beyond that, we would never have trouble suffering with them, we would seek it out!  It, honestly, doesn’t look like any church I’ve ever seen!

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6 thoughts on “silent night, silent painm

  1. Being a flower in a garden all by yourself is lonely and life, energy & LOVE come from God and his people he puts in our path. Just like people, plants can overwhelm and take over another plant to the point of suffocation and yet, there are those that allow another to grow and thrive in their garden. What a refreshing way to express your trials and tribulations with candor and pure honesty. GOD bless you, friend!

    1. Trixi what a beautiful analogy, God places so many of His creations around us to display His love! What an encourager YOU are! Many blessing to your family Trix!

    1. Kenny and I are deeply saddened, by the crisis and life changes you have had to face. Life can really suck that way sometimes. We love you, and are certain, God sees you, not only sees, but joins in with your pain and takes that pain to Himself. Luv u…..

  2. Angie, I just love how God uses you to speak peace to me. You are a precious friend…I only hate that miles separate us now. I consider you to be a gift from God!

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