Sunday, June 14, 2009

Remember Rwanda

Seems like an odd title for a blog written by a girl with cancer, but God uses all sorts of things to speak to our hearts.

I just finished my fifth treatment this week and only have one more scheduled to go before surgery and then... more treatment. I've gotten to the point now where I've been pretty beaten down emotionally by this whole process. I'm just sick of being sick and I'm tired of constantly feeling like garbage. Right now, it feels like it's is never going to end. I was pretty bummed out about it yesterday until I happened to catch a short TV show on the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

Boy, it's amazing what a little perspective will do for you! Until last night, I was your typical ignorant American (and I'm sure I'm not much better today). Other than being familiar with the country's name, I was virtually unaware of the travesties that have gone on over the years in Rwanda. As I watched the screen, my jaw dropped aghast. I saw images of churches where thousands upon thousands of people were brutally slaughtered. Blood and bullet holes still litter the meager buildings... and bones are not just scattered - they're piled up feet thick, so you can't even see the floor. Mass graves dot the landscape and many today are still reeling from the horrific event. People were not just assassinated; they were brutally tortured. In a matter of 100 days, upwards of 100,000 people were killed... simply for being part of a particular ethnic or political group. That's somewhere near 20% of the country's total population!

Unbelievable! It deadens the senses to hear something like that. It's just unimaginable that such evil could be wrought by the hands of man. But it was... and I am no fool. I know the heart of man and I know that Rwanda was not the only place where this kind of evil occurred. Worse yet, I know that things like this continue throughout the world today.

Yet, there is beauty in the story of Rwanda. There are believers. There are believers who, even in the aftermath of such tremendous loss and suffering, choose to lift their hands up to the God of heaven and praise his name. They choose to trust that he loves them, cares for them, and has a plan for them even now. What a beautiful display of the work of the Holy Spirit... that life and joy can still flow where death once ruled.

I've never been to Rwanda, but I've been to Ecuador and Haiti. I've seen and smelled poverty first hand. I care deeply for real people who live in a world where just one year of school or a simple pig costs a full year's wages... where the kind of medical technology I take for granted is unheard of. Yet, I still found myself sitting in my comfortable home yesterday, whining about how I feel.

What if I had been born in a country like Haiti or Rwanda instead of America? Where would I be today? I know a few things: I would still be in debilitating pain and I would have no means of even providing food for myself because of it. I would have no hope for the future and I would be waiting around for death to take me.

But I'm not in that position. I live in a country where freedom and medical technology abound. I have the opportunity to see a wonderful doctor who has taken the best care of me... and though the medicines make me feel sicker than I've ever felt in my life - they're working! I have hope for today and for the future. God has provided for my every need during this trial! How dare I take his blessings for granted? Shame on me...

...And shame on you, too. So many of us sit in our pristine ivory towers thinking our world is so "difficult". Is it really? Absolutely not! We forget that there is a very fine line that separates us from those tragic stories we hear about on TV - and that line is not guaranteed to us. We in America are blessed beyond imagination and we don't deserve it any more than anyone else. So, the next time you feel like complaining about having to work hard or dealing with some kind of stress or difficulty in your life, I implore you... Remember Rwanda!

A little shift in perspective would do us all a lot of good.

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