Jenny’s mom was holding her, this flailing mass of arms and legs. She looked at me helpless and deposited the writhing two-year-old girl in my arms. I struggled to keep from dropping her and collapsed onto the floor of the nursery, whispering “Sh, sh,” in her ear.
My heard pounded forcefully in my chest, constricted with the weight of this child’s grief. I rocked her little body, still convulsing with helpless agitation. Wild thoughts rampaged in my mind and I longed for someone to come and tell me what kind of pain had overcome her, this brown little Mexican girl with the long black eyelashes.
Instead, some of the Spanish women working at the orphanage peeked through the pink iron gates enclosing the nursery and watched silently as I held the wailing child gently, but forcefully, in my lap, singing Jesus loves you, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
She punched me and kicked me, and sobbed loud. Her eyes, that deep brown, swam with wild confusion. Tears filled my own eyes as minutes fell off the clock and still she screamed.
It was perhaps one of the most defining experiences in my life. I was nineteen, living temporarily in Tijuana, Mexico with three other English-speaking young women. It was us, two missionary families living half-hour away, a Catholic Mexican nun who ran La Hacienda, eight women working at the orphanage in exchange for shelter, and eighty fatherless children.
Jesus loves you, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. I sang and my heart shuddered at the words. Her desperate wail turned into a deep moan of grief that seared my heart. My voice lost volume and my song turned into a whisper as she slowly relaxed, shuddering pathetic resignation.
I held her long after her dark lashes closed over her eyes, staring into the little brown face framed by dark black hair. My heart twisted with the muddle of my emotions. I had told her, this beautiful child abandoned just that morning by her careless mother, that Jesus loved her, that she belonged to Him.
It was so unfair, this abandonment, this rejection. This two-year-old baby was an angel child. I had sung the love of Jesus over her screams for nearly an hour, and I felt angry. If you love her, Jesus, then why would you let such innocence experience such anguish?
The question of why.
The question of so many of our days.
The question we weep and wrestle through for hours.
The question we scream.
Why, Lord? Why?
If you love me, Jesus…if you love her, Jesus…if you love him, Jesus…if you love us Jesus…
Why, Lord? Why?
Why is life brutal and unfair? Why do thousands of women abort their babies when some women would move heaven and earth to have one? Why do some people die from hunger and other people stuff their faces unnecessarily everyday of their lives, with food enough for two? Why are innocent babies cast off like unwanted appliances? Why are little girls who should be playing dolls and make-believe sold into prostitution?
At nineteen, I stared into a face of such injustice and was forever changed.
“Sometimes bad, evil things happen to people, things that should never happen to anyone, and whose fault is this?” More than six years later, I looked into the faces of my city girls and asked this question.
Their lives are wrought with unfairness. When I think of all the wrong things that need righted in their lives, I don’t know where to begin. I imagine how much more keenly they feel the injustice and the pain and I know how easy it is to blame God.
And it comes out, as they talk, the feelings of being rejected by their own Creator. The Why, God? wail of desperate confusion. It’s hard to shake it, that shift of blame to God, because we have been treated wrongly, been rejected, abused, mistreated.
“If God can change it and doesn’t, isn’t it His fault?” She speaks and her eyes are wounded holes mirroring the ache that throbs deep.
I bow my head and stare into my lap, and I breathe, long and deep. They are quiet when I look up, waiting. “That’s how it feels, doesn’t it? That even the God of the universe has rejected you? I have felt that way too.”
They shift in their seats and look down in their laps. We all know it, the injustice of the world and the mess of sin entrapping our own hearts.
“Life is unfair and hard and unjust. Women are robbed of their virginity, innocence is lost, fathers and mothers reject their own children and innocent babies die in the womb and never have a chance to live. I do not have the answers to all these questions. I do not know why. But,” and I look each of them full in the face, “But, I do know this. The God in heaven, who created the world and gave you life, did not create sin. Evil does not come from our Creator, it is borne from the devil and it comes from the pit of hell, and someday the God of the universe, the One who created you? He is coming back and every wrong will be made right and full justice will be restored and that Enemy who corrupts and destroys will be thoroughly and forever dethroned. I do not have many answers, but I know this one thing: The heart of God is for you.”
(she finally smiled)
when I sang to Americana, the pregnant fourteen-year-old orphan and massaged her hands and she cried,
when I said good-bye to Alex before I left and he smiled between the crib rungs and reached for my face,
I began to recognize the undeniable truth that complete redemption is coming and our God is the Father of wholeness.
It changes your whole life, the realization that great injustice can be transformed into impossible good.