Recently, members of the United Nations (UN) have visited the Lake Chad basin, considered the near center of four countries: Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger.
This dwindling basin is not only the geographical center of these 4 countries, but is in fact also the epicenter of the evil Boko Haram insurgency. Ravaged by the woes Boko Haram has caused, the injury of the state is severe: widespread famine, and millions of refugees have gone barely noticed worldwide up to this point, with only humanitarian aid and other nations’ responses helping to feed and provide basic needs to those involved in the crisis. But that is not all: Michele Sison, U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, has reported, upon coming back from her trip to the nightmarish place of the Lake Chad Basin, that women have seemingly suffered more than men from Boko Haram violence.
Women, in the toxic areas Boko Haram has attacked, are now widowed, sexually exploited, and financially empty. This extreme suffering does not only belong to female victims of Boko Haram, but also carries over to women who were apart of Boko Haram. Whether voluntarily or involuntarily in Boko Haram, these women have had more difficult times facing stigma from their home towns and villages, especially when desiring to get re-married, according to Sison’s report. While one can understand why any person would be both skeptical and careful of a “Boko Haram wife” being re-integrated into their lives, those women who were coerced into Boko Haram, have been met with shunning and threats, instead of compassion and support over what they have been through. “I was treated as if I was also Boko Haram,” said one woman, in this report.
Women and children are slowly being degraded and killed– as well as those in combat against Boko Haram. On March 9th, it was reported that one soldier passed away in a battle against Boko Haram members, in Borno state (source). Two soldiers remain missing in the line of duty, and 18 were wounded while fighting.
The abuses against humanity in this area of the world could heartbreakingly go on and on. The noble get snuffed out; the vulnerable and precious become abused and wounded. In such a place as this, where is a Sovereign, Good God?
In The Beginning
To answer such a question, one first should ask, “Where was a Sovereign, Good God in the beginning?” In the account of the beginning– that is, in Genesis 1– the Bible describes a very profound image of God.
“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
(Genesis 1:2, NIV)
The earth, made of particles of matter, was, as Elliot’s Commentary for English Readers’ puts it, “a shapeless and empty waste” (source). The Commentary goes on: “It expresses here the state of primæval matter immediately after creation, when as yet there was no cohesion between the separate particles.” In this formless, empty waste that was earth, the Bible does not reveal that God was distant, or “apart” from the earth, as Deism teaches. Instead, the Bible describes God has “hovering” over the waters: very near, and very involved with and in His creation.
Fast forward to Genesis 3, and one gets yet another view of this Sovereign, Good God, interacting with the pinnacle of His Creation, humanity. In Genesis 3:1-9, the relationship between God and man is first seen as whole and unbroken. But, then, a huge breaking happens. “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8, NIV). This verse presents two very real things: that one, God enjoyed His Creation, maybe even walking with Adam and Eve in the garden; and two, that it was not God who caused this fracturing in fellowship, but Adam and Eve. Given freewill, and choosing to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam and Eve blatantly disobeying God’s command. Adam and Eve, in eating from this tree, displayed their decision to try to live a whole, unbroken life, without God, the source of Life Himself. While God foreknew that this action would take place, it was still humanity’s decision, humanity’s lack of trust in God being God, that caused sin, and death, to enter the world.
God, in Pursuit
Still, even through all of humankind’s sin, rebellion, and trying to “kick God out” of their lives, God– a Good, Sovereign God– did not leave mankind to rot in the stew of it’s own sin and death, mistakes and consequences. Instead, this Good, Sovereign God Pursued and Loved humanity relentlessly (as seen throughout the Old Testament). Still, a fracture– or truly, a gaping canyon– existed between God and humanity. Some might ask, “Why can’t a Good, Sovereign God just forget the debt of sin? Why can’t He just forgive?” Because God is a Good God, He is a Fair God; “He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9). The wage for sin is death (Romans 6:23), and as the Ultimate Judge, He cannot, by His very Nature, wink at sin and turn a blind eye. He must be Fair, and there must be Justice, yet, He knew that nothing mankind can do– not even dying for their sins, themselves– could reconcile them to Him. As a Good, Loving, Sovereign God, He willingly stepped into this role, paying for the entire sin debt of mankind– though He owed none of it. But He did not stay dead: not even death could hold Him. He rose again, on the third day, claiming victory over satan’s power, and over the sin and death that separated Him from humanity.
This gift, made outside of humanity’s ability (or rather, disability) to “earn” it, is completely free. It can lead to the question of, “Why?! Why would a Good, Sovereign God suffer in our place?!” The answer is simple: He Loves us. God is not just a Righteous, Sovereign God; He is a God who Loves us, both personally and passionately. Jesus Christ, who died just as much for the sins of one person as He did the entirety of mankind– and rose again, claiming victory over death– is the Savior of those who freely take on this good, good gift.
The Receiver’s Role
As the receivers of this good gift, Christ, who is God Himself, has called those who believe Him, for who He is to be, “ministers of Reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). God is the One who came to earth, to die for the sins of mankind in an act of complete reconciliation; Jesus made the ONLY way to “get right” with the Father.
Christ is bringing what is dead and fractured, to life, through the reconciliation He completed on the cross.
And so, a new “Creation” takes place (2 Corinthians 5:17). Just as God was “hovering over the waters” of an empty, formless world, creating beauty, form, and meaning in His creation of the Earth, He is now creating beauty, form, and meaning in the hearts of those who are responsible for the fracture– using Believers as His vessels to complete this task.
One can easily ask, when looking at the Lake Chad Basin– and for good reason– “Where is a Good, Sovereign God in such hell on earth?”
But He is where He has always been: Creating new life out of chaos, and redeeming what is broken. The real question is, will you join Him? 🔹
Do you know Jesus?
It is a seemingly trite, cliche question. “No,” you may laugh; “I’ve never met the guy.”
There have been many world-changers; some even claim that Jesus was a world-changer. Yet, there is no one like Him: He did not only change the world, He changed, and broken down the dividing wall, that kept mankind from Himself.
Jesus is not still hanging on the cross. He rose again, victorious!
Jesus is God.
He is alive, well (Acts 1:9-12), and where He always has been, ever since the garden (Genesis 3:8): passionately, and personally, pursuing you.
Come to the One who beckons, and calls your Name for you to come to truly know Him, here.
Please pray with me…
Dear Lord Jesus,
We thank You, dear Jesus, for paying the price we could never pay, to receive something freely that we don’t deserve.
Thank You, dear Jesus, for bringing us into a personal, saving relationship with You… not based on “good works,” but based on Your Grace and Goodness, toward us.
It is with Your Grace, and Your Goodness, in mind, that we come to Your throne room, now.
I praise You, and thank You, for each and every person You have made, currently living in Borno state, and specifically in the Lake Chad Basin… dear Jesus, we cannot imagine their suffering, and if anyone praying can, Lord Jesus, we know that we can only live through such things with You by our side.
Please, Lord Jesus, make Your Presence known– through Your Holy Spirit, through other people, through the world around us, and, importantly, through the Revelation of Your Word, the Bible. Please, dear Lord Jesus, make Your Presence known to those suffering in internally displaced people’s camps, in Boko Haram’s fortresses and camps, and in the desolate villages, harmed and wounded by Boko Haram, and by other evil, perverted men and women. Please bring even those perverted, evil men and women to come to know You.
We pray that as people recognize Your Presence, that many would come to know You, and would come to be healed of their brokenness. There is much wrong with this world, Dear Jesus, and You are the only cure… our only Hope.
Please make Yourself very Present in the lives of those reading. I pray they would realize their need for You, and would run to You for the Salvation, Forgiveness, Healing, Love, Grace, and Mercy that only You provide.
Please save all those reading, and bring them to the Light of Your Passionate Love for them. May they know You as their Lord and Savior– following You all the days of their lives, and realizing that nothing they do is from themselves, but only done by Your Grace.
We pray, in Your Name (John 14:13), that those who are currently starving would receive the physical food they need, as well as the Food that only You can provide. Please take care of their physical needs in general, and as they look to whomever gave it, may all the Praise, Glory, and Thanks truly go to You.
Please, we pray in Your Name, bring back the Chibok girls, soon… and please bring back home the wounded soldiers, and civilians in Vigilante Groups, who have been fighting to eradicate Nigeria of Boko Haram. Please, bring these men and women in Nigeria to You, including the President of Nigeria. Thank You, Jesus.
In Jesus’ Name we pray all of this. Amen!”
Thank you for your prayers!!! Jesus is Good, and He is in Control. BE BLESSED! 🙂