by Susan Nyaga-Anzuruni
A story is told of a man who had a dream walking with God on a beach. As they walked, the scenes of his life were flashed before them. For each scene, there were two sets of footsteps, his and God’s. When the last scene of his life was flashed, he noticed that there was only one set of footsteps. This bothered him so much because he remembered that those were the lowest and saddest moments of his life. So he asked God why He had left him when he needed Him the most. God whispered, “When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
It is true that God is always with us. Although we are always aware of His presence, the ‘evidence’ of Him being there with us when going through a storm is more reassuring. God uses people (cf. 1 Kings 17:7-16), even animals (1 Kings 17: 2-16) that He puts on our path to attend to our needs, as an assurance of His presence with us. We are not wired to be self-sufficient. We are made for both a personal relationship with God and with others in a community, because we are better together. Allow me to illustrate this with snippets from our family’s recent testimony.
Over the last two years, my family has been through what we dubbed ‘a journey of hope, faith and an unwavering trust in God’. My husband suffered kidney failure and was on haemodialysis from November 29th 2019 to November 3rd 2021 – when he underwent a successful kidney transplant. That period marked the roughest stretch in our seven years of marriage, but our hearts are melted seeing the goodness and faithfulness of God as we waited and trusted Him, daily.
We marvel just thinking about the community God placed around us throughout the different phases of our journey. I am talking about people who God surrounded us with at the onset of our journey, who prayed for us daily and called regularly for updates on how to pray. I am talking about another group who, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck and people could no longer visit, consistently brought fellowship to our home while observing Covid-19 safety protocols. I am talking about others who offered to drop off my husband at the hospital when I was travelling, in a workshop or just so that I could take a breather from the many hospital visits and long drives. I am talking about people who, when my husband came down with pneumonia and was in the critical care unit for 6 days at the peak of the pandemic, would come to the hospital and wait outside to encourage and pray with me. For nine months, a neighbour whose child is in the same school as our girls, faithfully picked them up every Tuesday and Friday when we would be in for dialysis. When my husband’s childhood friend offered to donate his kidney and we needed to bring him over to Kenya, two friends contributed their air miles to get him and his wife return tickets. I am talking about people (individuals, groups and institutions) who gave generously to ensure that every medical expense for the donor was paid.
In the run up to the transplant, our nephrologist gave us two options: to either withdraw our children from school for two and half months, or find them a place to stay and continue with school. We chose the latter and opted to rent a flat for them. A friend locked up her own home and moved to the flat to be with and look after our girls for that entire period. Our neighbours loaned us any extra furniture or appliances in their homes: a fridge, seats, carpets, and television, and topped it up with household shopping to start the girls off in their new home. Here again, the Lord raised another community around us that visited with the girls to spend time with them or picked them up and took them out for a meal.
Closer to the transplant, God surrounded us with an international army-on-bended-knees, through our work places, families, friends, friends of friends, groups and institutions we relate with, who earnestly prayed for us, daily. On the day of the surgery, people prayed while others fasted and pleaded with God for a successful surgery, for mercy and an end to our pain and suffering. What a blessing to know that even when you cannot pray for yourself, God raises an army to do exactly that in your hour of great need!
God, through the responses of the community He built around us, was constantly reminding us that no matter how difficult the journey, we are not forsaken. In those very difficult stretches, God always did something (through the community around us) to remind us that “even here, I am with you” because “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). Indeed, God uses people to reassure us of His presence as we go through life. He uses the shoulders of a neighbour, a friend, a family member, a community or even a stranger, to carry us when we are too weak to make that next step. Today, as we celebrate the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness to us, we know that this is not just the testimony and victory of our family, it also is the testimony and victory of the community the Lord built around us.
We all have been through two difficult years of a global pandemic. People have suffered and continue to suffer. What can you do, in small or big ways, to ease this suffering as part of the community where the Lord has placed you? In 2022 and beyond, I challenge us to be the shoulders, feet and hands, or even the raven that God will use to carry that neighbour, widow, orphan, that brother/sister through their storm, because we are better together!
Susan Nyaga-Anzuruni, Micah Global Board Member, SIL Staff, Kenya