“I was trying to figure out if God was still good.” Denise shades her eyes from the sun and watches me. I brush ants off my legs as I scribble the statement on my yellow notepad. It looks ugly scrawled across the page.
As an intern with Pioneer Bible Translators part of my job is to collect missionaries’ stories. I had come for a particular story from Denise, who serves as a missionary to West Africa, but our conversation has strayed far from the specifics of one story.
“I was wondering why He allowed suffering in the lives of the people who love Him.” I listen to Denise talk about her life in West Africa. The sun falling across the picnic table where we sit grows hotter and heavier.
“If I did nothing else that day, at least I had made someone smile. I had taken the hand of a charcoal vendor, ignoring the dirt to grasp her humanity.”
God used the blackened hands of charcoal vendors to remind a discouraged missionary of His goodness.
Working with God is a struggle — a lost-in-a-crowd kind of struggle, trapped in a world of suffering, faced with the brokenness of humanity. But it is also a fierce joy.
Photos used to illustrate this story with permission are © Flickr user “CIFoR,” made available under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.