Friday, May 30, 2014

Etched in Sand - Another "Why?"

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Last night on the evening news, the closing story on ABC News was about a young man who is his high school's valedictorian this week, despite the fact that he has been homeless off-and-on for the past twelve years!

This story really resonated with me due to the fact that I had just finished reading Etched in Sand, an autobiography by a woman who was homeless for most of her childhood.

Regina Calcaterra was in and out of foster care most of her childhood, and anytime her alcoholic mother could regain custody of her, she and her siblings lived in anything from the trunk of the car to a horse trailer. It was a tough read.

At one point, Regina yells at yet another foster parent, "Why does God make little kids suffer?"  The horrified woman - one of the few decent foster parents in the book - responds, "God does not make little children suffer, bad people do that."

Nevertheless, two of Regina's few possessions that managed to survive the constant moves, dragged hither and yon in the garbage bag of whatever meager things she could carry, were a couple of plastic Jesus figurines.  She does not know where they came from, or how she came to have them, but they are precious to her.

As I read this harrowing account I could not help asking "why."  Not why did this happen; since we know that such things happen every day all over the world.  And not "why does God allow it" - as that is a bigger eschatological question that I can ever answer.

The simple answer is that evil is present in the world, through Satan's devices and man's own sin.  But the reality of little children who suffer innocently, that is just too grievous to contemplate at any great length.  It is too painful.  It makes us squirm in our own skin.

From time to time in Regina's life, people did know what was being done to her and her siblings.  But they did nothing, because they simply did not care enough to be bothered.  It just wasn't their problem.

Yes, there was a happy ending:  Regina survived, went to college, became a lawyer and today advocates for foster kids who are "aging out of the system" and have nowhere to go.
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I wonder sometimes whether we, too, carry around a "little plastic Jesus" instead of diligently serving a real One who suffered and died for us.  Those little artificial ones are easier to ignore when we do not wish to be disturbed.  When it is easier to look the other way.

The real, living, Christ says to us "In as much as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me."

I don't know about you, but sometimes that reality scares me.  Have I done enough?  What is "enough"? I do not know.  Only He knows.
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If you read any sad books this week, I hope they were worthwhile and caused you to ask yourself some valid questions.  The one I read sure did.  Until next time ~ Marsha


  1. I saw that story and it resonated with me too. I just finished reading a book titles The Glass Castle about a girl who succeeds in life, despite the terrible situations and neglect she endured growing up. It was an excellent book - true story and it really made me think.

  2. I usually don't read sad stories, but your review makes me want to read this one.
    Mari, I read The Glass Castle, so good!
    Marsha, this is going yo be my summer read.

  3. You are so right. Do we just carry Jesus in our pocket and only bring Him on Sunday mornings? All too often we do. Heartbreaking. I'm putting that book on my list to read this summer as well.

  4. I asked that question just recently when reading accounts of the little girl who was ruthlessly murdered (Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada) by her mom's girl friend while the mom never raised a finger while the abuse was going on. I will have to get a copy of the story "Etched in the Sand".

  5. I so loved hearing about that young man on the news. I don't mind reading the gut wrenching books, but I always want to have a good take away with them.

  6. Great post. And yeah, I often ask myself whether I'm doing enough - in the lives of the ones I love, in the lives of strangers.

    In the wake of my dad's death, I have also spent a great deal of time wondering, "Did I do enough?" Was I a good daughter, caregiver, friend...?

    The devil would like to torture me with his answer, "No, you have never done enough because you will never be enough."

    We must not listen to the lies - because of Jesus, "It is finished." May the Lord show us His places, and the faces, where we can be generous.


  7. To All the Above: Good comments! Thanks so much. While we know that we can never remove
    all the suffering around us, we can try to do our part as God gives us grace to do so. And then, as
    Sharon said, we just have to trust that Jesus finished all the rest.