Suffering & Sovereignty: Stories from China


Writing down our stories helps us to process the events and to preserve the integrity of the events and emotions that can be somewhat altered by time, space and distance.

Since our homecoming from China I have written bits and pieces of stories of our time there.  In an effort to protect the children, the ministry and the work that we did while in China, there are many stories that could never be shared on such a medium as this blog.  And that reason has kept me from writing and sharing our stories up until this point.  I’ve kept stories tucked away, some written on documents on my laptop, some tucked away in my heart.

The truth is, I wish I could tell and write all the stories of the sweet kiddos we cared for.  I wish I could tell you the craziest stories and the medical miracles we witnessed.  I wish I could tell you of all the babies that in every way, medically speaking, should not have survived but did.  I wish I could tell you all the stories of the babies we cared for and tell you their names and show the pictures of those precious little faces.

But just because I can’t tell and show you all the things I wish doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t tell the other stories.

This life, my life, is a story about this crazy God and what he does to human hearts.  It’s a story about his love, grace, redemption and goodness that I never want to stop telling for as long as I live.

So here is the first of the China Stories I will tell and my hope is that you will see and know and feel and believe in this crazy God and what he is up to in our finite human hearts.   

One afternoon in the early spring Justin and I sat on the rooftop as we often did and looked out over the city.  There was still the winter bite in the air, chilling us when the wind blew.  We sat side by side on a wooden bench mostly in silence.  We could hear the sounds of the city, cars honking and mopeds zipping by.  The silence between us was broken first by him.

‘This place is forcing me to confront a side of God that I have not known until now.  I knew it, but I didn’t really know it’ he said.

‘What do you mean?’ I asked.

‘Believing in a God of justice and mercy in a place like this is one thing but then trusting in his sovereignty is another matter altogether.’

I nodded, understanding completely.

That afternoon as we sat side by side on that wooden bench we talked about God’s sovereignty and how difficult it is to trust in it in a way that I don’t think you’re allowed to talk about at church.

Our conversation was tinted with anger, outraged by the injustice these children suffered and marked by extreme sadness, with our hearts bleeding with compassion for these orphans.

And yet our human hearts and finite minds could not fathom the sovereignty of God in a place like that.

Where is the sovereignty in babies that are abandoned and children who die?

We could get on board with mercy, the severe kind of mercy.  We could still see his justice even though it was a stretch some days.  But the sovereignty?  Seriously?   

Nearly two years later, we do not understand much more of the sovereignty of God.  We have seen his justice, we have seen his mercy, we have seen his sovereignty and yet most days, we still do not understand.

But we trust and believe wholeheartedly in his sovereignty.    

So for all our days, we will continue to seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and plead the widow’s cause (Isaiah 1:17) in whichever way we are asked whether or not we will ever understand.