Please be forewarned. What follows is graphic and troubling commentary about human suffering.
What follows is also a rant.
I am so weary of gumball-machine faith -- insert a penny and out pops a sweet numbing treat.
I am tired of hearing false remarks about God in the presence of real pain. Here is my least favorite remark. "God never gives you anything you cannot handle." The hell, you say.
Tell that to any of the over 2 MILLION people left homeless (that is equal to the entire city of Houston, Texas)
as a result of the genocidal wars of Dafur. Chad just closed its border with Sudan, leaving about a .5 MILLION (equal to the entire population of Boston)
starving refugee people isolated from food aid.
Tell that to families decimated by AIDS deaths and unable to get medicine in the AIDS Belt of Africa. Africa has 12 MILLION AIDS orphans. (Imagine if every person in Los Angeles and New York City was a child orphaned by AIDS. Then add another 200,000.)
Tell them that God made them orphans, and that they can handle it.
Of the 40 MILLION (equal to ALL of Canada PLUS New York City)
people worldwide living with HIV, 33.5 MILLION are in Africa. Tell them.
Over 135 MILLION of the world's girls and women have undergone genital mutilation (equal to the TOTAL population of females in the USA - every woman and girlchild)
, and 2 million girls a year (equal to Detroit + Dallas
) are at risk of mutilation - approximately 6,000 per day. You tell a nine year old screaming and bleeding girl to handle it. [And in the event you do not understand what it is - Female genital mutilation -- FGM -- is the term used to refer to the removal of part, or all, of the female genitalia. The most severe form is infibulation, also known as pharaonic circumcision. An estimated 15% of all mutilations in Africa are infibulations. The procedure consists of clitoridectomy, where all, or part of, the clitoris is removed; excision, removal of all, or part of, the labia minora; and cutting of the labia majora to create raw surfaces, which are then stitched or held together in order to form a cover over the vagina when they heal. A small hole is left to allow urine and menstrual blood to escape. This is often done with crude and unsterilized instruments such as kitchen knives or broken glass.]
These lists of atrocities and inflicted brutal pain could go on and on. And the victims of this suffering and these horrible injustices should never be told that "God never gave you anything they couldn't handle." Or that "God never closes a door, but that He opens a window." or "Think about it -- this is just part of His plan for your life." or any of the other slick and glib platitudes that we use to fend off reality, to blind us to our own responsibilities and to obscure and distort the real force of the Gospel. These sayings, when exposed to something beyond our own comfort are seen for what they are. They are lies about God.
People all over the world have much, much more than they can handle. Whether it is the 30,000 raped Bosnian women who were victims in the 1990's to the almost 1 million butchered Rwandans, to the 6 million slaughtered Jews in the Holocaust - there is too much for the victims to handle.
That is why God sent us - and the church, and every faith. That is why we who are Christians are called "the Body of Christ", a body that does not exclude the great "them", those who suffer. I refuse to believe that God WANTS his children to be starved, abandoned, mutilated and slaughtered as part of some obscure cosmic plan.
I do believe, however, with my entire heart that God is WITH the suffering and the victims. I believe that He is on their side. I believe that He speaks up for them. And I also believe that He is waiting for US to join Him.