As a devoted international aid worker, Holly Burkhalter saw some of the most heartbreaking scenes imaginable. Families torn by civil war. Villages destroyed by dictators. And young victims of human trafficking. The tragedies all around caused her to abandon her childhood faith, and to develop a real anger at God.
But eventually, God brought some amazing, faithful people into her life. And through them, Holly says she slowly realized that the things that broke her heart, broke God’s far more.
“When I was writing the book, I asked that question to a couple of my colleagues who are probably the closest to great suffering. They’ve worked with victims of sexual exploitation. Seen things that, to me, were terrible, terrible evil. I just didn’t see how they could bear it. And this was after I had come to faith myself, but I was still very troubled by terrible suffering.
I asked this great investigator how he possibly can bear to go on and this lovely man – a former cop from the United States – just described to me how on each case he was involved with, he would think about the girl that he had met when he was undercover. Think about every aspect of every word that they exchanged. And he would just take that image of her, and just lay it at the feet of Jesus.”
From this extraordinary story, Holly found truth that spoke to her own own faith journey.
“What he made clear was that he knew he was just a helper. Jesus is in charge! He had a work to do, and he wouldn’t necessarily get to see the end of the story. But God has an eternity to make it right!
It’s just a matter of faith for me. It is a matter of being willing to, and even happy to, live with the mystery of it. There’s something greater for all of us – and definitely for those that have suffered so terribly. There is something better for them. There’s another story – whether we get to be part of writing it or not.”
Holly Burkhalter is the Senior Advisor for Justice System Transformation at the International Justice Mission & the Author of Good God, Lousy World, and Me: The Improbable Journey of a Human Rights Activist from Unbelief to Faith.On the Road with Holly Burkhalter