I’ve been thinking a lot about the way the earth and its people groan for the Lord. The last few years I’ve taken to reading the Bible cover to cover (instead of picking books at random) because my mom says that you can’t get the full story unless you read the full story. And my mom is always right.
I’m at the point that I always want to quit – about three books from the end of the Old Testament. So soon I will be to those first words of Matthew, but I can’t will myself to endure any more of these harsh words from the Lord. I’m tired of reading about how evil we are, and I’m scared that God doesn’t actually love me but wants to smite me for my unbelief.
But if I can make it a few more pages, there He will be. My Hope.
“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:5
This isn’t random – this feeling of groaning, wandering through the wilderness, this endless waiting for redemption. It’s the theme of the Bible, and it’s played out in all our lives, isn’t it?
I think of Martine*, an IJM client who’s deep in the thick of the wilderness.
Instead of attending school and playing with friends like other fourteen-year old girls, Martine suffered terror and abuse from a man in her neighborhood. He regularly beat her and raped her, and she eventually became pregnant. When her pregnancy became apparent, she came to IJM looking for help.
IJM came alongside the authorities and eventually, the perpetrator was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced. Martine successfully completed trauma counseling and gave birth to a healthy baby boy. IJM helped her go to school. She lived with her mother, who is HIV positive, and her young siblings. Case closed, right?
If only life were that easy. I recently listened to a sermon from Christine Caine. She talked about the Israelites in the desert – they were delivered into the wilderness, away from their captivity, but they weren’t yet free in the promised land. Many of us are living delivered but not free, like Martine.
Martine began to have conflict with her mother. It started as typical issues between a mother and a teenager, but due to the trauma suffered by Martine and the challenges of being a young mother, it quickly escalated, and she ran away from home, leaving the baby with her mother. Three months later, Martine’s brother found her and brought her home.
Eventually Martine made a plan to kill herself and her baby, believing it to be the only way to find relief from her pain. Thanks be to God, she was unsuccessful, but the demons remained.
IJM helped her to be admitted to a mental health hospital and receive additional counseling and continued to help Martine’s mother to care for the baby. Martine agreed to enter a boarding school and vocational training program to try and better her circumstances, but after two weeks in the program she disappeared, telling the school authorities that she was pregnant again.
She disappeared last fall. Just a few weeks ago, Martine reappeared when someone saw her at a local Kigali hospital scheduling the birth of her new baby. Martine is scheduled for a surgery to deliver the baby on March 25, 2014.
Meanwhile, Martine’s mother continues to care for her first baby, Henri*, who is now almost two years old. Mama Martine is quite ill due to her HIV status and weak from caring for the young child and her other children without any other family support. Worried that she may need to care for another baby in the near future, she may seek to have Henri adopted by a Rwandan family. Despite her weakness, Mama Martine continues to fight for her family. With IJM’s help, she is determined to start a business to help support her family.
What do we do with all this? How can we endure reading anymore pages of despair and yearning? Surely God has forgotten this family.
“But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save him people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21
Jesus. Emmanuel. God with us.
Keep reading. The story isn’t over yet.
Would you pray for Martine with us? As the day of her child’s birth draws near, we pray that God will show her his love for her through us. We trust that God is using her to bring him glory.