Sadness Makes My Eyes Hurt

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A part of my world crumbled yesterday while I was at work.  I received an email from Matt (the Missions Pastor at my church) explaining John, a child from the orphanage I visited last year in Sudan, had passed away.   

When he was younger, John tragically lost his legs and part of his upper lip in a landmine accident.  Because of the accident, his parents disowned and rejected him.  One of our church members who works with the orphanage described John in a blog post written shortly after his death-
John was the top academic in his class and always talked about the goodness of God. He is now seeing Him face to face.

I remember that John still had one leg while we were in Sudan.  He also smiled, played, and interacted with the other children as well as with some of us. 

(photo by Daniel Davis)

Honestly, I spent little to no time with John while in Sudan.  However, hearing about his death brought tears that wouldn’t stop.  He suffered a great amount during his short life – a tragic accident leaving him disfigured and unwanted by his family, moved into an orphanage too familiar with death and loss, then to have passed so young.  Not only is his death an extremely sad event, but it caused intense heartache to those remaining behind.  One thing I noticed in my short visit was how close the children were to each other.  They formed a family out of the only stability they knew….one another.  None of the orphans or the workers (many who had lost husbands in the war) are strangers to sadness and heartache.  This leaves me speechless and with an aching in my soul that I don’t know how to fix and maybe I’m not supposed to.  Despite all of this, they also express joy and true devotion to one another.  We should all hope to experience the happiness I saw in their eyes and in their dance. 

But God chose what is foolish in the world to
shame the wise; God chose what is weak in
the world to shame the strong; God chose what
is low and despised in the world, even things
that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no
human being might boast in the presence of God.
1 Corinthians 1:27-29

In my moment of sadness and confusion, the Lord gently moved as if telling me that we experience heartache we don’t understand so that we remember.  Also, I was reminded that regardless of how badly we, as people, want to fix things and make all the sadness go away, we must rely on God’s strength and power to do so. 

I’ve been surrounded by so much sadness lately.  Hearing about John pushed me over the emotional edge.  So many people in my life are walking through difficult times:

Lindsay, my sweet blog friend, recently said goodbye to her husband as he left her alone with their two children for deployment.  She won’t see him for 6 months.

(picture taken from her blog post – please read her story)

Tyler, one of my friends from work, just found out that her sister, Stevie, has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. 

(Tyler and Stevie)

In a few short weeks, my friend Alisha is moving to Guatemala for one year.  There is much to be nervous and worried about as she leaves and I know she has been in tears over hurting for this country during the past few days. 
In the past week, I’ve  heard from close friends who are suffering intense pains from not being able to have children and wanting to so badly, questioning their jobs, broken relationships full of unending questions….I was even deepy hurt by harsh words from one of my closest friends.  The past few weeks have been filled with sad news and broken spirits…as well as great times like painting and my lake trip tomorrow.

The one thing that keeps coming to my mind during all of this is how badly we all need each other.  Regardless of the stage of life we’re in, where we live, and what we have to offer — we need one another to make it through.  God created us this way.  He formed us to desperately desire authentic community and to need Him above all the rest. 

John’s passing won’t be remembered by many.  The death of celebrities will gain much more attention than an orphaned boy from Sudan.  But I know that his life has drastically changed mine in the past 24 hours.  Yes, we should pray for those in the midst of hardships because prayer is powerful.  But we should also remember, and tell each other’s stories, and do whatever we can to offer time, money, knowledge, and help to those around us who are hurting. 

Sometimes I try and hide behind a mask of happiness.  I feel the hurt of other people in a deep way and it cuts me to the core.  I wish I could make every trace of sadness disappear.  But there’s a reason we hurt when people around us do – it’s because we were created in the image of God and his heart is breaking along with ours. 

I wanted to tell John’s story because he deserves to be remembered.  So do the other hundreds of children still at the orphanage, Lindsay and Joseph, Tyler and Stevie, Alisha and the country of Guatemala, as well as the people in all of our lives who could use a kind word.  I’m reminding myself to never again forget and to do something every day to remember how much all of us really do need each other. 

In loving memory of John Mayet.  He changed my life with his death and it would be a disservice to his memory not to do something about it.  I’m thankful that he will never hurt again and hopefully one day I’ll be able to thank him for reminding me of what’s truly important…
(photo by Daniel Davis)


8 Responses to “Sadness Makes My Eyes Hurt”

  1. Erin Says:

    Love you, sweet friend. This was such a reminder to me of the “big picture”. I so
    easily get caught up in daily junk and forget that it’s all about the cross and loving like Jesus. I love your heart for others and I will be praying along side of you for these needs. Xoxo

  2. janel Says:

    We are so fortunate aren’t we, to know that even in sadness and loss that God has a plan for it. In times like these, I always have to reflect on Jeremiah 29:11. Through all of the hurt and the pain that we experience, it is only for us to prosper and for us to be able to be closer to God and lean on Him. I can’t imagine how people with no faith can deal with problems like that 😦 That makes me sad. My prayers are with you and with all those mentioned above.
    I can say though, that I feel really blessed to have a new friend with such an amazing, loving, Godly heart 🙂

    • sunshineandstarlight Says:

      Thank you for those encouraging thoughts! So true. I’m thankful that we do have faith — even though I certainly need a lot more. A whole lot more. 🙂 I’m super glad we are friends too!! And it makes me really happing knowing that you also love the Lord. Hooray! 🙂 Have a lovely weekend, pretty girl.

  3. jamie Says:

    This post has me in tears first thing this morning. Everything you said is so true and touching. You have a way with words, my dear. I love what you said about prayer but that we need to be there for each other. I’ve been experiencing that so much lately.I love that God brings the most wonderful people into our lives at the perfect time. I’ve experienced that a lot lately, including you and your new friendship. It’s a blessing. You are a blessing, dear friend. It’s so hard to understand why these things happen and I know we probably may not ever understand but just trust that God takes care of every big and little thing in our lives. Big hugs to you! xo -j

    • sunshineandstarlight Says:

      He does take care of the big and little things. Thanks for that reminder. And thank you for your sweet words. Jamie, you are such a natural encourager. I can tell you have the sweetest spirit!!!

  4. Lindsay Says:

    I read this on my Blackberry this morning and immediately was brought to tears. There are so many sad things going on in this world that no one hears about. I’m glad I got to hear John’s story. Everyone should hear it.

    I also want to thank you for the sweet section about my family as well, I am so appreciative of all the support I have received since he has left and so blessed to have such amazing friends like yourself in my life. I am so happy we have “met” and that I can call you a friend. I can’t thank you enough for being so kind to me and my family. Thank you, know that you have brought joy to my life and even in such a short amount of time.

    I will be praying for your friends and their families. You are also in my thoughts.
    Lots of love

    • sunshineandstarlight Says:

      Thank you, Lindsay!! You’re such a sweetheart. I just didn’t want you to feel alone b/c you aren’t. 🙂 Have a fantastic weekend!! Oh, your package arrived but the apartment office is closed until tomorrow!! I can’t wait to go pick it up!! I’ll let you know when I do. Yay for blog giveaways!

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