living the exiled life: on finding purpose in suffering.

October 29, 2013, Michaela Evanow, 21 Comments

To be very honest, at my lowest, I feel like our lives are so close to being “over”. While others kids are picking pumpkins in the patch, mine is in the hospital, and couldn’t pick pumpkins if she tried. And as much as we try, sometimes our life as a family revolves around doing very little, to keep us sane, to keep her safe and because we just don’t have the resources to do much.

There are always multiple medical appointments and the ever nagging need to watch her for signs of aspiration or sickness or respiratory failure.

And I get that feeling, in moments like this, while I sit in hospital, desperate to see the suffering of my wee one end…it’s the feeling like I’m losing, like I’m under the giant’s heel, crushing weight, wheezing heart. That crumby feeling that threatens to extinguish any song of joy I may have.

Self-pity pulsates through my head.

That person recovered. They had a good blood test result. They dodged a bullet. They don’t have any health problems.

When the health of your child (or even your own health) is threatened, it can be very debilitating. There is a cloud of lack that hovers, carries weight and rain. If it’s not fear (and it’s not always), it’s fatigue, sense of loss, grief, heartache.

There is very little good. But it’s there, tucked away deep, but alive. It looks like hope.

I’m not going to lie, it can feel really terrible to trudge through some days, the long days. Part of me screams that I can’t go on, I can’t run this race with a broken leg. The other part responds, you have got to keep running, run like your life depends on it, be dragged.

Entering into the rest, into true rest in Him can be as simple as a coffee break, a date night, not sleeping at the hospital every night, taking a walk in the brisk air, a fresh, hot meal, a movie night with our girl safe at home in her crib. In this battle, rest is practical. And through the practical, it becomes supernatural, a spirit lift, a flicker of hope, a thick covering of peace.

The hitch is when I stumble across my need for a normal life, for a life that I envisioned.

This is when the anger surfaces, the comparison, the spirit groan.
This. is. too. much.

Don’t you see, doesn’t anyone see? God, don’t you see this?

And then I see her: the mama that lost her three children to diarrhea and HIV. The one who had her child stolen in the night, straw mat empty. The one who gave birth to three children in a hut, all of them dying from lack of a birth attendant.

Don’t you see, doesn’t anyone see?

I see you mama. I feel that pain, the ache traveling across five thousand miles, rippling into my own hurt. And it’s making me want to do more for you, for the suffering, for the world’s throbbing wounds.

Isn’t that what we as Christ followers are called to do?
Aren’t we called to do more, to live differently, to love harder?

From what I recall, the heroes of the Bible lost an awful lot on their journeys. They struggled, endured heartache and loss, had broken dreams, fits of rage, lust and jealousy, and yet God still carried them through. And they overcame, and God used them to birth nations and split seas.

We will face heartache and broken dreams. We will have debt and sickness. There is suffering, it’s inevitable. There are bad medical reports, there is death, and sometimes our hearts desires don’t happen the way we want them to happen…even if they are good, God honouring desires.

This world is not our home, not near perfect. We are sojourners, homeless and…willing, are we not?

1 Peter 2:11

So what do we do in the waiting, in the groaning? Pull back in our grief or hurt or rejection and let life flood pass us, rushing river that it is?

In the waiting, the long pilgrim’s progress, how are we journeying?

This is I tell my soul, in a moment of walking rest, autumn sun far too warm for October’s end. I left her bedside while she slept, respirations high, oxygen levels making me cringe. I left the dark room, windowless and dry, not because I wanted to but because I needed to. Deep breath, fresh heart pumping new blood, eyes opened, tears wiped away.

This is the journey. This day. This moment. I tell my heart to keep pressing on, sojourn, oh exiled one, this world is not our home.

And yet, here He is. Dwelling in our camp, the one we made by the river, determined to keep watch, though the flood waters rise. Here He is, the Beloved One, with justice and mercy at His side.

In this journey, I have learned no earthly pleasures will sustain me, feed oxygen into the red blood, feed the ache. Nothing can compare.

Is this why Amy Carmichael gave her life?

 “Amy saw a dirty little beggar girl with her nose pressed against the window. The poor little girl, with no food, touched Amy so much that she made another promise. She promised that when she grew up she would give her money to the poor.”

A childhood memory, pressed deep into her clay, an impression everlasting. And she packed up everything one day, she moved to India, for 50 years, she lived, husbandless, full. The rescuer of girls from temple brothels.

And Katie Davis, young mother to 13 Ugandan orphans, left behind a life of wealth, of feather duvets and worldly comforts, for the red dust, for the King.

They saw a need, they saw the wounds, and they packed them, salt full, with love and healing, with just their hands and the little they could offer.

And they changed and are changing the world.

Each day of their lives, a journey, a breathless thanksgiving, worth fighting for.


  • Reply Adriel Booker November 6, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    I can think of no better metaphor for the Christian experience than a pilgrimage. How often do I feel like I’m still not home? Like I don’t *completely* belong? And I’m quite sure that’s not because I’ve traveled or settled overseas or anything recognizably tangible. It’s because we wait for Zion and the day when all is made new. I’m glad to know I’ll be sharing that day with wise, brave souls like you.

    • Reply Michaela. November 7, 2013 at 8:34 AM

      We wait for Zion…yes. So often I’m reminded: this life is but a vapour, and there is hope, the hope of heaven. But He will make all things new, even here, while we wait. Thanks for writing Adriel.

  • Reply Ashley October 30, 2013 at 10:04 PM

    Hi Michaela… I don’t really know you but I am praying for you via LOJ, and I enjoy reading your blog so much. it’s so helpful to write and put things in whatever perspective you have at the time, frail as it seems. thank you for writing, it blesses me.

    • Reply Michaela. October 31, 2013 at 1:23 PM

      Hello Ashley, thank you for your words. Writing is so healing isn’t it?

  • Reply Beth Stedman October 30, 2013 at 9:08 PM

    Just found your blog and I’m so glad I did. My daughter has some very extreme special needs, my husband is fighting a very advanced and aggressive cancer – the feelings you expressed are so very close to so many I am in the midst of right now. Thank you for sharing – it makes me feel a little less alone.

    • Reply Michaela. October 31, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      Hi Beth, your link back to your blog doesn’t work, a bug warning comes up about spam?! In any case, thanks for writing and if you get a chance, let me know your blog address!

  • Reply Lisa October 30, 2013 at 9:03 PM

    “We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses”…..thank you for ‘remembering’ and sharing all that you ‘remember’. My life has had small sufferings, but life often has the potential to press us towards losing hope….we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses…those that have sojourned, that have wandered, that have waited, that have laid claim to promises, those that have walked desert miles and they cheer and champion and say “Look at that one GO!”….that’s what many before and now are saying about you. Thank you for pressing on and sharing the journey.

  • Reply child of God October 30, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    Hon, you need to write your story out in a book and get it published. Others who are suffering will gain hope from reading your story.
    Praying and praying for you Florence. May Father’s healing hand rest on you.

    • Reply Michaela. October 30, 2013 at 3:06 PM

      Yes, that’s the plan…somehow, someday. Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Reply Belinda Shauer October 30, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    I have been reading your blogs the past 6 months. Your a very gifted writer, mother , ambassador of JEsus. Your words and life have been speaking to me ,to my heart. I have been praying for your little girl. This beautiful little girl. That I am so glad to get to know through your humor and truth and love.

    • Reply Michaela. October 30, 2013 at 3:06 PM

      Hi Belinda,
      Wow thank you, for sharing and for reading! I’m blessed by every single prayer and word. Each reader encourages my heart so much.

  • Reply Leah Martinez October 30, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    THANK YOU for journaling your heart and where you are at in your incredible journey. You express it so well that it stirs my insides. If we live for Him I don’t think any of us have a “normal life” it is a reality and something that I have to keep dying to and yet for each of us it looks so different. I love how you keep pointing to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Our sustainer. He has a great reward…sometimes is will cost us everything! The question is are we willing to push through,to not shrink back,to endure. Heb.10:35-39….. Bless you as you continue to push forward. You are precious and YOU are an inspiration!!

    • Reply Michaela. October 30, 2013 at 3:05 PM

      Thanks Leah. Yes, it sure feels like it’s costing us the world, but it’s a price paid in full. Love that.

  • Reply Vangel October 30, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    Yes, you too…are changing the world. Story….your story…your choice to love when your heart is breaking…is truly a living miracle. Thank you for your words, always calling me to love harder, even when it hurts. I love you Michaela Noel. Your life is a song of worship to our great King.

    • Reply Michaela. October 30, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      Love you too. I know you will love harder, with everything you’ve got.

  • Reply Cathy Vanderkooy October 29, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    Dearest Michaela, as you cry your heart out thru loquacious words, this reader is both moved and paralyzed to find words of consolation. May the Spirit of Jesus minister to your weary soul by the power of His abiding, loving presence.

    • Reply Michaela. October 30, 2013 at 3:02 PM

      Thank you for praying for us!

  • Reply Anny October 29, 2013 at 10:02 PM

    What a writer you are! The only good i see in this terrible, terrible ordeal, is your depth, your beautiful and relentless faith, your mama love, your jesus-style love for all the suffering ones out there. It iis so beautiful to read about what you find through this unfair trial. Despite the ordeal, you push into beauty. I am in awe. You are my hero. Yes, in your feeble attempts even, because i don’t know that i could even see light where you find plenty. You somehow go on, wiser by the minute. Praying for comfort and small treasured moments in every day.

    • Reply Michaela. October 30, 2013 at 3:02 PM

      Thank you for your gift of words. Somehow, yes, some how we go on. Not in our own strength, that is long
      gone. And that is grace!

  • Reply manila2008 October 29, 2013 at 9:46 PM

    And you, dear one, you too are changing the world. The world always changes within us first. Love suffers in us, it stamps us with its heart, grows us and moves through us to the one we can hold in our hand, whether in India or here. Bless you this day and the next. Bless you and yours this day and the next.

    • Reply Michaela. October 30, 2013 at 2:58 PM

      Thanks for this. I love your words.

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