I remember giving a talk not long after we’d returned to the States. I was sharing about the wonderful countries where we’d served and about the people who had come to know the Lord. As I looked into the eyes of the Americans in the audience, I knew they couldn’t quite grasp what I was saying.
The countries we left were worse off than when we served there.
That talk came to mind as I fast-forward ten years to 2021 and cry with all who are grieving loss in Afghanistan. Whether missionary or military, years were spent and lives were sacrificed to see the Afghan people know some peace—temporal or eternal.
So, what do you do when you have to leave, knowing those you loved will face hardship and even death?
I believe God tells us to focus on the revealed things. Listen to this verse:
The hidden things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law.Deuteronomy 29:29 CSB
Bad, horrible things happen in this world, and though we, as people of the Light, can dispel the darkness by shedding light as we go about doing good, the day has not yet come for the Prince of Darkness to face his final judgment. Though it’s hard for me to understand why God would allow the precious people of a country to taste peace, only for it to be taken abruptly away, it must be for his purposes.
What I do know, however, is that in that brief moment of peace, women gained an opportunity to learn and work, families were able to sing, men were able to go to the barber, and children played. Most importantly, we know that some also came to know Jesus, who opened the door to eternal peace that not even death can take away.
So, was our work in vain? Never. Was it worth it? Yes. Is God still in control? Absolutely.
When my guilt in leaving weighs me down, I have to ask myself:
- Will I only trust God in the good times and not the bad?
- Does God not love the Afghan people more than me?
- Was I faithful in the task he gave me?
- Will I turn my guilt into a new determination to pour into others who need to know peace?
- Is it better for them to have known that people cared enough to come to their country for their good or to have never known or heard?
How can we turn our guilt into fruitful prayers and action on the behalf of others for the sake of earthly and eternal peace?
Only you can answer that question for yourself. Ultimately, we can only do it through His…
Grace and Peace
2 thoughts on “The Guilt of Leaving”
Oh, I can only imagine the grief you suffered as you left those you had come to love. I am grateful that God allowed you to see that you had given a glimmer of hope that they had not experienced before. God bless you, Carol!
Thank you, Sylvia. It is by his grace.