Kayla Mueller: God in suffering
“I will always seek God. Some people find God in church. Some people find God in nature. Some people find God in love; I find God in suffering. I've known for some time what my life's work is, using my hands as tools to relieve suffering.”
Kayla Mueller (1988–2015) letter to her father on his birthday 2011. Synthesis, Today Quote June 28, 2018 synthesispub.com.
Kayla Mueller was a twenty-six-year-old Christian human rights activist and aid worker from Arizona who was taken captive by ISSIS in 2013 in Aleppo, Syria, after leaving a Doctors Without Borders Hospitals. Kayla had been involved in the United States with Food not Bombs, in India with Tibetan refugees, in Israel with African refugees, and in Turkey assisting Syrian refugees. She died in captivity in 2015 after being a hostage for 18 months and subjected by all reports to torture and sexual abuse.
Many have called her “the best of America” and the “best of the millennials.” Those who escaped who knew her in captivity when she was subjected to great suffering would agree. She certainly should be considered a present-day martyr, even trying to relieve the suffering of others who were imprisoned with her. She refused to escape with another young Yazidi girls, telling her, “No, because I am American. If I escape with you, they will do everything to find us again.”
God promises to be with us in suffering. We see many who suffer who seem to sense God’s presence with them while others talk of being estranged or abandoned by God. Our world so desperately needs more people like Kayla who have the gift of seeing God in suffering. I think we can do this by showing God’s love more in actions than words as we care for and let those who suffer know they are loved. In time, those who suffer and feel they have lost God may see God in this neighbor. Then in time they may even see God in themselves again, the God within them. This indeed is our ministry as spiritual friends to each other.
Some of us may not have the overpowering courage and selfless gift of empathy of Kayla, but there are so many ways to let others who are suffering know they are loved. We can sit and listen. We can help with daily tasks that their suffering keeps them from doing. We can visit. We can call. We can volunteer. We can hug. We can read to them. We can feed the hungry. We can be aware of and reach out to and support those who are sick, lonely, poor, weak, homeless. So much more.