This post is late. Like, two weeks late. However, I think that I needed a little bit of time to process my thoughts a little better. We were recently in Cambodia, Siem Reap  and Phnom Penh, and this was one of the best and most difficult times of my life. Why was it difficult? I don’t think I can really explain it thoroughly in this “brief” post, but here goes nothing. While we were in Cambodia we had the opportunity to visit the Killing Fields and S-21 both in Phnom Penh. These were some of the darkest places that I have ever been in my entire life. Let me give a brief background on these two places. The Killing Fields are the sites of multiple mass graves that were a result of the brutal Pol Pot Khmer Rouge regime that plagued Cambodia during the mid 1970’s. There were graves here that held the remains of more than 400 people. There were graves here that held the remains of only mothers and small children. There were signs all over the place that said “Don’t step on bone fragments” because, the rain was still bringing them up to the surface. There were trees that had strips of clothing, from those killed here, wrapped around their trunks. There was a memorial stupa that contained over 5,000 skulls and numerous other bones from the unfortunate people that were caught up in such a horrible moment of history. Then came Tuol Sleng, or S-21, a “detention centre” for Khmer Rouge prisoners. This is a somewhat misleading name as only 12 of the ~20,000 prisoners survived their detention here. I suggest the more appropriate name of “death centre” for S-21. This, for me, was much harder than the Killing Fields. S-21 is a former high school, turned death centre, turned museum. It seemed that S-21 was much less curated and visitors were allowed to see the raw, untouched (to an extent), nature of it. For example, there were several rooms that were used as interragtion (torture) rooms. In these rooms were pictures of what these rooms were used for. In one of the rooms there was a picture of a body, seemingly lifeless, lying on a wire bed frame with shackles, and a pool of blood lying eerily beneath. Looking towards the center of the room you see that same wire bed frame, with the same leg shackles, and a blood stain on the floor in the same place as shown in the picture. S-21 was well documented by the Khmer Rouge, and walking through the museum is proof of that. There are numerous rooms with what seemed to be endless pictures of the prisoners. Each one had a number beside it, and as you walk through the rooms the numbers increase. Prisoner 1, prisoner 5, 16, 78, 346, 1331, 12675, these were all individual people, with individual stories, unique families, created by God for a unique purpose, and I thought loved by God. Where was the love of God in this place? Where was it in the midst of this evil? Was it in the scratches in the cell wall of a prisoner, counting the days to freedom, only to find out that his freedom would never come? Was it in the mothers being torn away from there babies only to watch in horror as their infant child was killed in front of them? WHERE WAS GOD? Why didn’t he stop this? These were the questions that I struggled with, and still am struggling with as I write this blog. Something like this, something utterly and totally evil in every way, was allowed to happen to a people so innocent and warm. *Side Note: Cambodian people are some of the kindest and most loving people you will ever meet.* Why did God let this happen? As I pondered these questions God brought me to the book of Job. Job, righteous and upright, God fearing and honourable, was afflicted with terrible suffering. He lost almost all of his family, he lost his wealth, he lost his home, and he lost his health. Why? Well you see… I don’t know. But I do know that God was still good and still loving even through that suffering. Through suffering Job was able to praise God for his goodness and mercy all the more. I saw that in Cambodia. We talked to a few people who had been alive during this turbulent time in Cambodia’s history and they all seemed to understand how good God is, how much love He has for them, and the endlessness of His mercy. This is where God is. We were able to see how God used such a horrible event in history to raise up a generation that is so passionate and so convinced of God’s love that they have inspired many others to follow in their footsteps. God has shown them the depths of His love and richness of His mercy. I wonder now what the lesson is for us to take from this? God loves us? God is good? God shows mercy? Yes. All are good. But, I think that the overarching theme of this is that God is. PERIOD. Not was, not will be, but is. In every moment of every day God is who He says He is. Malachi 3:6 offers some encouragement “For I the LORD do not change, therefore you, O children of Jacob are not consumed.” Sometimes we go through crappy situations, we lose a job, don’t get into the school we wanted, have a terrible illness, a loved one passes away, or maybe you lost your family. It is easy to get caught up in the fact that we are suffering and lose sight of who God is in the midst of this. We don’t always – actually, we seldom – know why God allows us to suffer, but the thing that we can always know and keep our eyes fixed on is that God is who He says He IS.


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