How such an awful day can start with so much promise, I’m really not sure. The sky shown high and a glorious sapphire blue, and the air so calm and clear it seemed to magnify the beauty of the mountain ridges behind our house. I left home the morning of September 23rd feeling thankful and full of happy enthusiasm for the day.
Within half an hour of registering those feelings, the shooting and fires started. Our town erupted in riots. Smoke hid the sky and the atmosphere took on an eerie, apocalyptic glow as ash floated down around us. I could not stop my body from shaking, even after my family was together and safe at home.
Government offices along with hundreds of homes, shops, and vehicles – all burned. The official death toll hangs at 33, with many more injured. More than 11,500 people fled, our family included.*
Of all the things I ever thought could happen to us overseas, September 23rd was not one of them. The experience left me wondering, If this can happen, what else?
We are back in our mountain town now and life would almost seem normal, except it isn’t. The nightmares have stopped, but we still shift uneasily in our seats when Special Forces rest their machine guns under restaurant tables next to us.
A long road to healing stretches before us as a family, but also for our town and province. Some things are already a little clearer, a little lighter, but there’s still so much that isn’t. All of us battle with uncertainty over the future and the lingering feelings of powerlessness in the face of so much evil.
We came back to the mountains shakily, unsure of what the ‘right’ decision was. If the government says the town is now safe, does that mean it really is? Are we foolish bringing our children again to this place?
At some point, I guess you just make the best decision you know how to make and go with it. The future is uncertain, but this is nothing new. Yes, God is with you, but there comes a point when you realize it’s quite possible that next time He might not rescue you. At least not in the way you would want to be rescued. You may have to live the very thing you fear, or worse.
In the immediate aftermath of the riots, my mom sent me Psalm 139. As I read through the familiar passage, verse 16 practically jumped off the page. It reads, “ Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
All the days – every single one of them – even September 23rd, are all known, all recorded. That awful day, no matter how surprising to me, was known to God long before I was born. The God who made everything knew that my family would be in this town on that day. He knew what we would see, how we would feel, and in the terrifying unknown He knew what would become of us.
If you are staring down the unknown, wondering if your decision is right or safe or wise, make the best decision you humanly can and then rest in this – God loves you, knows you, leads you. He never leaves you. You may feel powerless, He is not. All the days that stretch out in uncertainty before you are known to Him. The God who made you, even made everything, holds you in His hands.