"Have Mercy"

Within a week of moving to East Africa, I was summoned to a northern Ugandan hospital to help an orphaned boy named Olwa Elly. I'd befriended him months earlier on a short-term visit to Uganda. Sorrow consumed me when I arrived and found the 9-year-old lying listlessly on a filthy cot in an overcrowded, understaffed, fly-infested ward. The healthy and active Olwa Elly I once knew was now an emaciated child with an undiagnosed illness that had rendered him unrecognizable.

Two days later, Olwa Elly died. I took on the heartbreaking task of selecting his burial suit and coffin, and then joined his wailing relatives and friends as they laid the young boy's body to rest.

Olwa Elly's was the first of 11 children's funerals that I attended during my initial year in Uganda. I've come to understand that, in Africa, a continent with alarmingly high child mortality rates, multitudes are weary from the sting of death.

Again and again, I've heard African men, women, and children cry out like the psalmist David, who pleaded, "Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in distress. Tears blur my eyes. My body and soul are withering away. I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness" (Psalm 31:9-10).

You and I may not know how to abolish the wars, corruption, and diseases that claim the lives of millions of Africans each year, but we do have the capacity to pray for the desolate in foreign lands.

Today, ask God to show you how to pray for suffering around the world. Let His compassion fill you so you can echo the prophet Isaiah who said, "The Sovereign Lord has given me His words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary" (Isaiah 50:4).

, Roxanne Robbins, Our Daily Journey