Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.
There is no easy way to tell this story. Honestly, It is one I would rather forget. But it is a story that has marked me, changed me, and shown me the true meaning of Paul's words...
Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
It was Mothers' Day. The church was decorated beautifully, and was filled with the sweet poems and songs the children had dedicated to their glowing mamas. The service ended with warm hugs and kisses. It was a precious moment that overflowing with joy and thanksgiving.
Until our pastor came to the front. With tears in his eyes and tremor in his voice, he called our attention to one faithful sister of the church who was not in attendance for she was mourning the death of her daughter.
Turns out there was much more to the story. Her daughter, 23 years old, was kidnapped, raped, killed, and left in the city sewage tank. Her body was found that same Mothers' Day morning. While other mamas were warmly woken up to flowers and chocolates, this one woke to the police knocking on her door.
It was our first Honduran wake. As is tradition here, the wake takes place immediately after the death of a loved one. The body is placed in a coffin with a clear top in the family's living room, and for the next couple days, the family mourns their loss while their community comes to offer whatever comfort they can. When we showed up, there were hundreds of people surrounding the house. When we finally made our way into the house, the pain was overwhelming. In that moment, I felt no hope, no joy, and no love. I saw a mother, whose beloved daughter had spent the last hours of her life suffering the most terrifying and inconceivable violence, weeping uncontrollably and inconsolably. In that moment, I felt like the devil had won. Evil had won. This girl had been killed by Satan himself, and this poor mother, who had put her life in the Lord's hands, was suffering a pain no one could deserve.
But was not the end of the story. That's not the part has changed me forever. A few weeks went by, and my nightmares had subsided. One average Saturday evening, I walked into church and sat waiting for the service to begin. As our pastor asked us to greet the people around us, I turned to see behind me that same mother. Hoping she didn't see the shock in my eyes, I hugged her tightly and thought "what on earth are you doing here?" We began to sing and worship, but all those thoughts of hopelessness and defeat immediately took over my heart once more: What would she possibly be thinking? How could she have anything to praise God for...? How could she even come back here?
gracias, Señor, gracias
My thoughts were interrupted, but a quiet prayer behind me. Thank you, Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you... it continued for several minutes. Glancing behind me to confirm my confusion, this mother was bent over, hands high in the air, declaring her gratitude to the Lord. Thank you Lord, thank you. Thank you.
I'll let this resonate with you as it did me. I have no answers still to why or how this suffering mother could put those words to her lips. And though confusion and conviction overwhelmed me as I continued to hear her heart praising God, I knew that this woman had looked into the eyes of Satan himself, and with a truly supernatural strength, declared victory in the name of hope, in the name of joy, in the name of love, in the name of Christ. Amen.
I am just a simple person who is trying to follow God the best I can. For He has changed my life and my heart. He has shown me what it is to love and to serve. And I spend my days trying to imitate His example wherever I am.