The war had only been over for about a year when we arrived in Kosovo. Roads riddled with deep holes made driving a slow, jarring process. Houses gutted by mortar shells stood silent, dark, and halfway abandoned. No electric streetlights brightened the night. Cars and trucks drove without headlights to conserve batteries. Close calls spiked my heart rate, and everything in me went on alert. We weren’t in familiar territory anymore.
We had come to offer help to crisis-weary workers and women traumatized in the war camps. But after watching women shake as they told their stories and hearing of evil so horrific, I didn’t think it could be real…until it was repeated in the next village and the next…and the next…words failed, and emotions choked out thoughts. And here I was to offer help. Inadequate doesn’t really describe the absolute deficit I felt to meet the moments.
It’s an extreme illustration, but I think you also know that feeling. The one where what has come your way left you reeling. Life changed and you didn’t get to say whether you wanted it to or not. The road turned, becoming difficult, testing strength and finding it wanting.
“Lord, what do I say? Where do I start? What do I do? I’m not enough for this.”
These words poured from me as I sat alone outside one of those gutted homes. The moon and a few stars created tree shadows that at first looked like moving soldiers and made my heart pound. “I’m afraid, Lord. Nothing looks like itself. The worst of humanity is staring me in the face. I don’t know what to do with what I see. Who will make this right? Who will answer these women? How will they ever heal from what has been done? What good can I possibly do here? What words could I possibly say that would make any kind of difference at all?”
Leaning back, I stared at the night sky. I had spoken my fear and didn’t know what else to say. Now it was God’s turn.
Nothing, just wind. I continued to sit; silence broken by a diesel-fueled military truck. Finally, the clouds began to move. As I watched, they formed a lion’s head. Distinct. Strong. Fiercely present. I gaped, then felt relief burst over me. Of course. The Lion of Judah…the one who is coming and will turn over every stone, upend any system, let nothing stand in his way to make all things come right. For some moments I rested there before movement caught my eye on the other side of the moon. Watching, I saw clouds form a lamb upright, standing still. For just a moment the fierce lion and the vulnerable lamb hung in the sky, illuminated by the brightness of the moon. Unbidden, tears came. I wept for all the women whose pain was so thorough. I cried for the evil that is in the world. Tears flowed as the contrast of big need and my own smallness collided. I wept that the answer was both now and ahead. That Jesus was enough for this moment and would see me through, but that pain and suffering would continue forward until the day when he comes again. And I wept because I knew, deep in my soul, that the day will come…and I wept for the glory that day will be.
Coming into the new year, what are your tears about? What are you carrying? What are you up against? Perhaps let them sit with you as you read Revelation 5. How does the suffering lamb and fierce lion speak to you today?