For the third time in two days I feel a guttural cry rise in my throat. My three-year old startles, puzzled as he hears it. I reassure him with a false smile.
First, for the wife and mother who was killed and her body found in a vlei, then for a baby found dumped in the garbage and now for two little girls found raped and hanging naked in a tree.
The cocktail of bitterness, helplessness, grief, hatred, vengeance, and sorrow leave an aftertaste in my mouth and my chest heaves as my heart races.
“Why Lord?” I want to shout at Him and run into His arms at the same time. So I do both.
“Daddy? Why?” Peace. Still. Rest. I calm down and lean against His chest, listening to His heartbeat. My little one does that when he can’t go to sleep. It comforts him.
“Oh, Daddy, help!” I cry. An ugly cry.
And then He speaks and the vibration of His voice against my temple calms the jelly in my insides.
“My child, you are my child and they were also my children. I will avenge them. But don’t let that be a consolation to you. Never. Remember always that I died for that killer, rapist, robber and vagrant too. Remember that their sins are not too big to forgive. Pray for them. Forgive them. Your prayers can change killers into comforters, rapists into repentants, robbers into redeemers and vagrants into victors. Don’t write them off. Don’t write your country off. And now, you be my hands on this earth. I have given you all authority on this earth. Push back the tide of darkness in this country. Hold hands. Bring hands together. Hands of different colours and beliefs. Don’t forget that cry in your throat. Let it push you forward to stop the tide of killings and rapes and abortions and infanticide through prayers and unity. But don’t let vengeance be your fuel. Let it be love.”
“It’s too big, Daddy.”
“Not for me, my child.”
“Daddy, they will ask me why You allow this. Why You don’t stop it?”
“My children on this earth are my hands. But they lay sleeping, criticizing, hating and keeping themselves in comfort.”
“But doesn’t it make you angry, Daddy? I don’t think you understand how I feel!”
“It does. But vengeance is mine, not yours. You would not be able to bear it. It would change you. Do your part. Speak for those who cannot, pray for those who hate you and love those who don’t deserve it.
And my child, I do know how you feel. I once watched the people He loved the most, hang my Son bloodied, naked and alone on a tree.”