I have been reading some truly horrific things in the news here in El Salvador this week. A six year old girl was barbarically raped and murdered as part of a gang initiation rite. A police agent was brutally killed in front of his children. Meanwhile, the daily grind of violence pushes school attendance down and pulls the homicide rate up. I try to hide the paper from my children and swallow the physically ill feelings that this news brings.
It seems like there is nothing left to do in the face of such reckless evil than to simply despair, give up, and wave the white flag. We deeply love this country, and it feels like it’s falling down before my eyes. How can I tell people that they can get up? That there is a path through these troubles?
When I focus on the circumstances and the headlines, it is easy to despair. It becomes easy to doubt that God is really here at all. But I need only turn to His Word to remember that He is all about working in the darkness and in the trouble.
His Word overflows with images of restoration and growth in desert places, it is filled with pictures of love and cleansing redemption in dark lands. He calls people to Himself, and sets things right. He works in the dry dirt to bring forth green leaves and fruit.
Hosea 2:15 speaks of this very thing. The verse says these words:
I will return her vineyards to her
and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.
She will give herself to me there,
as she did long ago when she was young,
when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.
This passage is about God and His people. The “Valley of Trouble” is a translation of the Valley of Achor which was a real place that was synonymous with the suffering and pain that sin and evil causes in the world. That is what makes this so beautiful. God chooses the very place of evil and suffering to redeem the wreckage into a place of Hope, new life, and growth. This passage promises a fresh start to those He loves.
Only God can do this, and because He is working I need not despair. Evil does not have the last word, and the deep pain caused by sin is not where it all ends. Instead, it is the very place where God begins to move, to cultivate new life, and to bring hope where we think there is none.
These horrific headlines show again how desperately our world needs this healing news. These reports stand as reminders that God is working in the most broken places, and I thank Him again that I can be a part of it.
Thank you God that are building a Gateway of Hope right here in El Salvador.