There was a baby boy I loved named Isaiah. Two years ago today, little Isaiah Salva died in the middle of the dark Sudanese night that turned July into August.
I’ve sat with Jesus today, remembering the afternoons I coaxed and pleaded and cajoled that boy – cooking noodles and trying to get him to eat. The sweet moments – the laughing – the smiles – the peaceful way his body rested against mine, tied close on my back. Dreams for a future stirring with joy in my mind as his chest rose and fell against my spine. I remember prayer while Isaiah slept in the room or played on the floor – and other times when I was alone, believing for healing from HIV and asking Jesus through hot tears to speak into my confusion when little Isaiah lost his hunger.
I remember Jesus’ answer, and Papa John’s redemptive interpretation of Isaiah’s stubbornness. 🙂 I remember hospital visits for medications and check-ups and weighing his fourteen pound frame in a cloth bag on a hanging scale. I remember taking Isaiah and his older sister on a date to visit their uncle. I remember the stares as the white woman carried the black baby bundle through the market.
I remember anger when I heard people speaking of Isaiah like a pariah, “No, I can’t clean him or change the pampers. I’m fearing the disease.” See the boy. See the boy. See the boy.
I remember being far away when the call came. Isaiah mutu bilele. Isaiah died in the night. I remember a determined rush to the bus station in Uganda – hurrying home over miles of dirt roads to be near – to bring life – faith like a fire in my belly. Then dismissal by the priest whose funeral program would not include resurrection prayer – and all the feelings of disappointment, hurt, and falling short as dirt closed in on the crudely fashioned box that buried a body I never said goodbye to. And the echoing silence of heaven as my fists dug into the soil piled high, tears making mud and the sense of a great wall muting my cries and those of a million Sudanese before me.
Belief rooted deep, but no answers. Fierce anger against principalities and powers that thieve life from little limbs and breath from lungs pregnant with the promises of God. There they mocked my grief, and I lay low, weak and helpless at their hands.
How does a mother feel burying her child?
And I remember one year later, to the day, meeting a man named Isaiah – who was everything I’d dreamed Isaiah would become. And what a kiss from heaven it was.
And today, the truth spoken by Pastor that Jesus doesn’t always answer our questions just as we ask them, but He always gives hope that does not disappoint. And as I wake from afternoon nap – a song returns to my lips that He gave me in those days of loss.
And, still without answers, I look to Him in faith and say “yes” to eternal pursuit of the Man who gave all that we might have life from the dead. And in faith, I again claim the seeds sown in Sudanese soil will reap a harvest of healing and wholeness. God will make the enemy pay for his folly, and many will know abundant life in the love and power and presence of the Man who said, “Be of good cheer! I have overcome the world!”