The little town of Alotenango, Guatemala is built on fairly steep hills. The streets don’t wind; they shoot up at difficult angles. We hiked up a steep hill along a narrow path between fences made of tin and barbed wire. Vulcan de Agua smoked behind us steadily, and I made a mental note to take more pictures. This place is too beautiful to forget, I thought, as we walked into a dirt courtyard.
We filed under a doorway covered by a lace curtain. Inside, a woman was moving a small bundle from the bottom of a bunk bed to another bed. She propped a pillow beneath one end and stepped back.
I saw the bundle was really a little girl, emaciated to the point of nonexistence. Her legs were turned inward, feet permanently pointed. Her arms and head moved slowly, mechanically, and spit foamed at the edges of her mouth. She started to cry as I sat near her, mouth making a low moaning and then harsh wheezing sound. Her eyes flickered around the room, unfocused, and I knew she didn’t have any idea of what was going on around her.
Her mother told us that the girl’s name was Wendy and she was thirteen. She has a convulsion syndrome that makes her body fold together, arms and legs intertwining until they’re useless. Every convulsion brings her that much closer to death and that much further away from her family.
Something inside me broke.
Until Wendy, it would have been easy to look at my time in Guatemala and think I was off on vacation. I was blind to the blatant reality of the poverty just outside my door. I assumed every country fought for the handicapped people. I assumed someone was meeting their needs.
I was wrong.
In Wendy, I came face-to-face with all the brokenness of a world separated from the LORD. I saw pain in the eyes of a thirteen-year-old girl trapped in a useless body and couldn’t do anything to help.
In situations like this where your heart is broken but your hands are tied, it’s easy to fall into a posture of apathy. But that’s not what the Lord would have us do. Here are three ways to keep you’re heart from going numb.
1. Find God.
In the middle of the mess, ask God where he is. What is his perspective on the situation? Is it truly as hopeless as it seems? He showed me that Wendy was his little girl, his child, and that allowed me to believe that she would be taken care of, even if that meant she wasn’t going to be on earth much longer.
2. Ask for Wisdom.
James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom, ask your generous God and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” When you feel helpless, ask God for his wisdom to see how best to pray in the situation. With Wendy, all I could do was hold her hand and call her beautiful. Then, when I came home, I told Wendy’s story. She became a motivation for me to fight for kids who can’t fight for themselves.
3. Pursue God’s Heart.
In the truck, on the way back down the hill, I battled with the Lord, angry and broken over Wendy and her condition. I asked angry questions of his love. And he answered, “Do you think that because Wendy is as she is that she is less my daughter? That I love her less? I died for her too.” Ask God to give you his heart for the helpless. Inevitably, he will use these situations to draw you back into his love, to show you how great his love is for everyone.
What about you? In situations of helplessness, how do you hold onto hope?