Things We Can’t Unknow

It was the day after my daughter returned from her first mission trip to Uganda.

She was unpacking and putting away her belongings. . . or so I thought.

Instead I found her on the bed crying.

“I have so much stuff. I had more in my backpack than most of those people own.”

Those people are the refugees in the settlement she visited, people from Sudan and surrounding countries.

Those people are no longer pictures on some missionary’s website. She has looked in their eyes, held their hands, heard their voices, and seen their poverty.

She will never be the same. None of us will.

Because we can’t unknow.

smiling girl in Uganda

Now we know that a little girl with a pretty smile wears a dirty, tattered dress, her only one, in a place where everything is scarce, including hope.  And she is one of many.

We can’t unknow her or them or the circumstances in which they live.

I’m reminded of that morning early in my nursing career when the OB/GYN nurse from the next floor burst into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit grabbing my fellow nurse and crying, “Come! You have to come help!”

A few minutes later the NICU nurse returned with a tiny baby boy, the result of a failed abortion.

We couldn’t save him. We didn’t even have equipment small enough to try.

It was my job to watch him die and record the process.

But he didn’t want to die. He hung on, clinging desperately to a life he would never live.

I watched and prayed and wept.

I can never unknow him.

I can never unknow abortion, the silent holocaust happening right under our noses.

I’ve seen it. I’ve known the horror of it. I can never forget it or him.

It’s so easy in our comfortable, prosperous world to revert to the American default of complacency when we hear of suffering.

We don’t want these things to be true so we look the other way. We deny. We pretend. We do anything but confront.

It hurts to know. So we choose not to.

But then life throws suffering right onto our path in a way that we can’t miss it.

Then we know.

And we have a choice.

We can act or we can walk away.

But we can never, ever unknow.

Writing Prompt: What can you never unknow? Maybe you’ve never written about it. Now is the time.
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Inviting God into Your Temptation

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When I think of God and temptation, they seem like polar opposites. After all, James 1:13 clearly tells us that God cannot be tempted and He doesn’t tempt anyone else.

And that’s probably exactly how the enemy wants us to think- that God and temptation should stay in opposite corners, never venturing near one another.

But that isn’t what Jesus said.

In Gethsemane he instructed his disciples to watch and pray specifically not to fall into temptation.

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak. Matthew 26:41 (NIV)

Earlier in His ministry, his disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. In His prayer He included this plea:

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  Matthew 6:13 (NIV)

To be honest, very few of my prayers have ever been about temptation. I pray for the lost, for me, for the poor, for me, for my family, for me, for the government, for me- you get the picture- but I’ve probably prayed less than a handful of times about avoiding temptation and not succumbing to it.

And do you know why?

Because I’ve always believed that God and temptation don’t mix. You’re either in one camp or the other.

Jesus clearly demonstrates that we are to pray about temptation before it arrives. And since we never know when it’s going to show its ugly face, we should be prayed up in this area all the time rather than avoiding the mere mention of the word.

Still, temptation will come. It came to Eve in paradise; it will certainly come to us in a fallen world.

Even in the middle of temptation, God wants to be right there in the thick of it with us. He even provides a way out!

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. I Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

And what happens if we don’t reach for God’s help and we give in to temptation? Even then He is with us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9 (NIV)

God wants to help us in every part of life, even when we are tempted. Maybe especially when we are tempted.

Writing Prompt: Think of a time you were greatly tempted. How did you respond? How might you have handled it differently?

 

Image in public domain via Pixabay

 

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