Friday, March 23, 2018

When Your Heart Keeps Getting Broken

I can see him clearly in my mind, sitting to the left of me at his desk, as I teach my Algebra I class.  His sandy brown head is bent over his paper as he tries to keep up with taking notes. It is my first year teaching at an International school in Central Asia. It is his first year at the school as a student.  M as I will call him was determined to learn, and he asked me politely to speak just a little slower.  I smiled and replied him that I would try.  



M was one of those students that make teachers happy that they chose the teaching profession.  He didn't expect life to be handed to him on a silver platter.  His attendance at the school was made possible by his dad's job on campus.  If he didn't understand, he was quick to ask questions or stay after school to figure it all out.  When M received most of the awards for his class at end of the year, the other students just smiled because they too were rooting for M to succeed.  

After that first year, I never had M in class again but would see him in the hallways between classes.  A smile was always on his face.  I will always remember his smile even now as tears fill my eyes.  Yesterday the news came that M died when in a bomb explosion near the university he attended.  It is a tragic loss for his family, his friends and his country. To many, including the teachers who taught at the school, M was the future hope of the country we had come to love.

M is not the first and will probably not be the last to die in that war torn country.  With each death, my heart breaks.  As I read the news, I am tempted to close off my heart.  People are dying for no reason in Syria, Afghanistan, Congo, and many other places.  These places are so far away, making it easy to forget about them except for the blips on the news.  But today I am remembering that each life had friends, family, and most of all a God who loves them whether they knew it or not.  On this day where it feels like hope is dying, I cling to  a Savior who endured the cross for me and others so that we could have hope.

But where is the balance?  How can I love and grieve without totally falling apart?  How can a heart handle loss after loss?  Is what I am doing even making a difference?  Many cope by putting up a wall trying not to care.  Others ignore the hurt not out of spite but as a way to cope.  Some dive into trivial pursuits because they feel like they are not making a difference.

In this season of Easter, we are reminded that the answer is found at the cross.  It is at the cross that we lay down the grief, hurt, and fears that come from loving deeply even when death and evil seem to be winning. It is at the cross where our Savior suffered for all us so that sin would not have the victory.  In this season, we hold on to Jesus more tightly and abide in him more fully.  It is at the empty tomb that hope is revived because our Risen Lord holds the keys to death and hades. (Rev 1:18).  The empty tomb is a reminder that God will be victorious.  

My prayer is that I will be steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord no matter what is happening around the world. Our labor for God is never in vain.  (I Cor. 15:57,58)  I ask that my heart will weep with those who weep and will not be closed off to the suffering even if is an ocean away from me.  May all that I do be done with love. (I Cor. 16: 14)


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