For When You Know Too Much

When sorrows like sea billows roll…

the verse from the old hymn made me grip the back of the seat at church.

I thought of the wave of sorrows I have known the past year-loving Maureen, losing her family members, letting God build a house, living a life with one foot here, the other there. Equally, I’ve experienced the most profound joy I’ve ever known.

But now, it’s the new sorrow that each of our Mercy House girls carries from abuse, neglect, threatening to destroy them.

Some days, I don’t want to read the emails from Africa or wait for the ping of Skype. It’s not because I don’t long for Maureen, them. It’s simply because I’m afraid.

If I’ve learned anything in this wild God-journey, building a maternity home in Africa, it’s to expect the unexpected. And sometimes I’m scared the problem will be too big.

I’m afraid I won’t have answers for staff asking questions-hard ones about 10 year old girls being raped by step-dads and wondering if we have enough money for outpatient hospital care for one of our unstable girls and…..

I struggle because I don’t have the answers. Not even one.

I know too much. Imagine the worst situation for a young girl in Kenya-the worst. (Hunger. Prostitution. Rape. Incest?) Now double it, triple it. I’ve learned of things I cannot even imagine.

Some days, knowing so much is too much to handle.

And the sorrow like sea billows roll….

I sat on the dark beach, illuminated only by moon, and whisper-cried to Ann a few weeks ago how heavy the burden is some days. And even on days, it’s lighter, the guilt presses in. Do we buy a new sofa because ours stinks (literally smells)? Or do we make do because we have so much and know those with so little. She grasped my hand, tears glistening in the moonlight and I knew she knew.

I’ve never lost a parent or a child. I haven’t know physical abuse or neglect. I was raised in middle-class America, braces on my teeth, degree in my pocket. I live a comfy American life, and most days, I’m the wrong person for the job.

But then He reminds me, in the way only God can, you said yes. It is enough.

I don’t need you to fix the problems or offer solutions. I need you to trust and let me move.

And I find my way back to the place where I need Him.

Every hour. I need Him.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


I know that we face periods of sorrow in our lives-sick children, aging parents, financial crisis. Moments when we just need Him.

How can we bear each other’s burdens today?


  1. 3


    this is gonna sound weird but I had to skip around and not read every word just so I could sleep tonight. So it is too much even for the reader BUT so grateful for folks like you!

    blessings & beyond

  2. 4


    What you are doing through the grace of God, is a wonderful thing. He is the only way you can make it through the midst of those sea billows. You can do it through him. I am touched by your words and your work for His glory.

    As for your sofa, have you tried having it steam cleaned? It doesn’t cost near as much as a new sofa, but it might help. When we lived in the US we had our carpets and couches cleaned yearly. Ah, I miss my sofa….but alas, we couldn’t take it. :-)

  3. 5


    God doesn’t make mistakes you are the right person for the Job. Your heart bleeds for all the pain you witness and it tears at your soul. You need to look after yourself for others. You are no good to anyone if you haven’t any strength left. My prayers are yours x

  4. 6


    It is hard to reconcile the knowing. The sorrow like sea billows roll…I know it well. And, yet, it feels as if in some ways I am just beginning to know, just opening my eyes slowly to the plight of the lost and broken. It is a consuming love, an agonizing, heart-wrenching love. And, how do we reconcile this life of abundance in the face of their plight? I am asking myself the same.

  5. 7


    Oh, thank you so, so much for sharing this.

    We met at Idea Camp in February. At the time, I told you I was working to help a home for orphaned and abandoned children in Gabon, Africa – what I didn’t know then was that just a few months later, I would be moving to Gabon for a few months to work directly with the home. The different culture, the different language – all of that is difficult, but the hardest part is just the NEED. The knowing, like you said – knowing the truth of their past, knowing just now many more children help, trying to reconcile finite resources with a need that is so much bigger.

    I’m 3/4 of the way through my time here, and have started to look toward home, toward the family that I will be living near, for the first time in 5 years. I wonder about finding a job and a new place to live. But the thing I worry about most, the thing that scares me is, how do I balance living in the US with this knowledge? How do I live with one foot there and one foot here?

    It’s good to know I’m not alone in the struggle.

  6. 8

    Deb says

    It’s okay. At the end of the day, God’s the one who has to account for all of this. And he will, through Christ Jesus. It’s God who will draw up the at the end of the day and make it all add up. He doesn’t ask you to be God today. That’s his job. He only ever asks you to be you, relying on Him.

  7. 9

    AmberK says

    Oh, Kristen…I think that way so I can’t imagine knowing what you know and trying to have solutions for it. Girl, you are hugged so tightly through the cyber universe (and I am sure in real life, too :) ) and you are completely covered in prayers…so I hope that in the moments that you feel weak or heavy burdened not only will you go to HIM for rest and answers but that you feel US. US-cheering for you, praying for you, sending hugs to you, crying with you, feeling JOY with you, and asking for answers with you. What you’ve done already is so much…don’t forget that. Without you and Maureen MOVING because He asked you to, these girls would have no where to go. I see smiles in their faces. I see HOPE in their eyes, Kristen. I see a healthy baby in that picture…those are not small things, sweet friend. HUGE.

    Hang in there. Feel Us. Rest in Him.

    Hugs and Prayers,
    Amber K

  8. 10

    cheryl says

    Thank you. Thank you for your transparency. Thank you for being God’s instrument to say to me exactly what I needed to be reminded of today. Because I do need Him every hour. I do have sorrows like sea billows rolling, but it is STILL well with my soul.
    “I don’t need you to fix the problems or offer solutions. I need you to trust and let me move.” A balm to my soul today.

  9. 11


    Sin messed up EVERYTHING and the only one who can save the day and have the answers is the ONE who was sinless and gave Himself for us. The burden of the consequences of a sin cursed world will not go away until we get to heaven. So what you are doing by being available to pray and be available is evidence that God is still at work and that ultimately He wants to draw all men to Himself. None of this makes sense because it was never meant to be! This is not what God intended the world and life to look like. He never meant for precious Americans to live in a culture that is self sufficient and materialistic-causing men to think they don’t need God, and He never meant for those precious children to face what they face-causing men to doubt there is a God. It’s ALL messed up! So, when we somehow get a glimpse of what God intended and He puts within our hearts His burden for this messed up world, all we can do is cry out to Him and ask Him to show us how He wants to work through us.

    The encouraging thing is that He does open eyes and then it all points back to Him.
    Keep clinging!!!

  10. 12

    Leigh says

    God didn’t call you to guilt. It’s no accident that you were raised in America and others in Africa. God placed you exactly where you are. Then, God called you, and you said yes! You are doing God’s work and God’s will. If you need a new sofa, you need a new sofa. I understand where you are coming from, but you buying a new sofa or not buying a new sofa is not going to lessen or worsen what is happening in Africa. Guilt does not come from God, it comes from Satan. Rebuke him in the name of Christ and he will flee!

    While the knowing makes you feel afraid and weak, in it you are actually stronger. God’s power is made perfect in weakness. It’s ok to be afraid that the problems will be too big. That’s just an opportunity for God.

    I feel like a proud momma when I read what you are doing, and I don’t even know you!! I praise the Lord for your faithfulness!

    • 12.1

      kristen says

      thank you everyone for your encouragement. I know guilt isn’t from God and you’re exactly right. Sometimes I just need to say it “out loud” to hear (and correct) myself.

      Couldn’t do any of this without y’all support!

  11. 13


    Kristen, God’s grace is sooooo evident in your life and writing! Be encouraged! He is doing a good thing in and through you! Isn’t He good!!?

  12. 14

    ann says

    You know how some missionaries send out emails with just prayer requests? Do you guys have that? Or, is the blog the primary way for us to know about Mercy House prayer requests?

    If you want me to help you get a list started, let me know. I doubt I’m the best person for the job, but I’d be more than happy to help you share the burden with people who are longing to help you carry it.

  13. 15


    Oh, how I wish I could say “yes,” but I struggle with “yes” asking too much. It’s so easy to just look away…

    Thank you for being transparent and sharing your struggles and joys…

  14. 16


    Thank you for your beautiful post. It is a reminder that we are to say yes and trust Him to lead and guide. I loved your statement “you said yes. It is enough.”
    Yes, Kristen it is enough. Trust Him. He is doing great things, of that I have no doubt.
    Go with God.
    Peace be still.

  15. 17


    I have a 2 year old son who has special needs. The most likely diagnosis also means that he will have ongoing and mounting medical issues throughout his life. We are in crisis mode. And it seems like we will live here most of our lives. It is hard not be drowned in the sorrows of life. It is hard to keep my head above water. And yet as I sat with my baby in my arms the other night waiting for an ambulance to arrive to take him to the hospital I realized that moms all over the world don’t have ambulances coming to their homes. Their children die in their arms. I am so fortunate to have medical care for my child. Living with the realities of such blessing and such sorrow is a difficult thing.

    I have no answers either. And my struggles are different. But I too long for God to remind me that no matter the circumstances of my life that it is well with my soul. Because it is all to easy to forget.

  16. 18

    caitlin says

    Through Him, you are amazing. You have touched my life on a few levels. Through Him you have helped save my marriage, through Him you challenge me, Through Him you keep me sane, Through Him you encourage me and bring me peace. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, Thank you. Lord have mercy. and I DON”T EVEN KNOW YOU! It’s just amazing…

  17. 19


    This song, this old and wonderful hymn, is so ever present in my mind these last few days. This song that is written by a man wh had much to bemoan about.. This song that sings of knowing and believing, truly relying on God has made it a constant in my heart and my mind… and thus the way that i stumble through my day, clinging only to a Father that loves me like no other….. May God give you the strength and wisdom to get through the worst of it all!

  18. 20


    May it comfort you to know that when you come to my mind, I pray for you and through my mind flashes the orange colored continent of Africa and I picture a little Mercy House and I pray God’s blessings and provision and love, love, love. I spent some time with my family in Rwanda in the summer of 09. I have looked into the eyes filled w/pain I cannot comprehend. I have also looked into the eyes that have a capacity to love and find joy that is so frequently lost on us in our busyness and plenty. I cannot imagine the weight that you feel…I pray you allow the Lord to carry it for you as you obediently do as you have been asked…the Saints will continue to lift you up in prayer.

  19. 21

    Corrie says

    Miss Kristen,
    Today I was listening to a new song from a new album titled “Songs from the Story”. A whole bunch of artist got together and made an album of songs about chacaters in the Bible. The song I was listening is called “It Must Be You (Moses)” by Bart Millard and it seems that some of the lyrics fit what you have said in this post (it’s supposed to be from Moses’ point of veiw)”
    “If there’s anything good
    Anything that’s good in me
    Well, it must be You
    Must be You!

    And if there’s any part of my
    Shaking heart
    To see this journy through
    It must be You!”

    Those are just some lyrics. Here is the link to the song on Youtube:
    Thank you so much, Miss Kristen, for all your doing for those precious girls in Kenya! It is so amazing to see God working through you and your family!

  20. 22


    I’m doing BSF this year, studying Acts. From last week, one thing I took away from the lecture was that God does not command us to do anything that he does not give us the power to accomplish. I hope this helps! God will give you the tools to accomplish what he wants you to do.

  21. 23


    so…. we can say yes, knowing that He will supply whatever is necessary? WOW – it sounds so easy, why do we make it so complicated? When I have an opportunity to say yes, I freeze. literally. I freeze b/c I don’t have the answers and forget that He who I’m saying yes too will be the supplier –
    THANK YOU for making it so simple!
    I can say yes. I can ask for help so that I can say yes!


  22. 24

    Sharon O says

    Sometimes knowing too much is a burden but it is also a privilege to go to our knees and pray from our broken hearts and give the burden to the only one who can heal the broken oppressed and wounded. I pray that as you hear and ‘know’ too much you can write it down and let it go. We heal one person at a time with limited energy. God bless you as you reach out to others.

  23. 27


    That song – I love that song! It reminds us that whatever is overwhelming us, God is bigger. And that though we don’t have answers, He does. I read about the story behind that song in Heartstrings: Finding a Song When You’ve Lost Your Joy, by Jill Briscoe. The man who wrote that song was named Horatio G. Spafford. He was a successful attorney and business man with a loving family, who had close friendships with leading evangelicals of his day. Then his life took a turn for the worst. First he lost his infant son. Then his real estate holdings were destroyed by the Chicago fires of 1871. His wife and remaining 4 children, all daughters, joined a group going on a mission trip bound for Britain. Horatio was to join them later. They were traveling by boat across the Atlantic when tragedy stuck – the vessel sunk in just twelve minutes. His wife cabled him, “Saved alone”. He left at once to join her. As he traveled over the same seas that had taken his beloved daughters, he wrote: When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul..the rest of the song is just as beautiful.

    What YOU are doing is beautiful – though it is painful. Just remember, Our Lord was despised and rejected by men;
    a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief (Is 53:3). So if you feel alone – don’t. You are in very good company.


  24. 28

    kristen says

    thanks, everyone for your encouragement. I certainly don’t deserve any praise, but I thank God that you’re in my life and helping me. xoxo

  25. 30

    Pam says

    Thank you for saying yes. You encourage me to do more. The Lord has burdened my heart for girls who are enslaved by drugs, but I don’t even know where to start. Thank you for being the Lord’s hands and feet. I pray for you, Maureen, the girls, and your family. God Bless You!

  26. 31


    I am asking myself these same questions. After what we have seen, we too carry a burden. Not a burden as heavy as thecweight of your ministry, but a burden still. God is so faithful. I ray that you have moments of peace where you feel Him carrying that burden for you.

  27. 32


    Some days- like today- I wonder if i KNEW what it would cost, what it would be like… would I still have said “yes”. i pray that i would still…. and i weep like now knowing- seeing- all the good that God has created in this life i am so very weary from tonight… and i pray that i would still say “yes” even if i had known all the heartache, the frustrations, the sorrow, the complete exhaustion. the burden these girls carry- the burden we see glimpses of in these childen, in my children- is huge. and for some reason God has called you to lighten those burdens… and that is beautiful. in the face of evil, in the face of pure greed and ugliness, these girls are seeing beauty, they are seeing Jesus. our children- these girls- have been given an impossible load to carry alone. and thankfully, beautifully you have answered “yes”– not fully knowing the price and the toll it would take. thank you for saying “yes”– these girls are stronger, their loads are lighter and their hearts are seeing beauty maybe for the first time in their lives.

  28. 33


    Just reading and praying for you. I am thankful you will share your heart with us. It helps to know how to pray… the needs.

    God is faithful.

    YOUR faith is such a testimony to me… and others.

    His grace is so real in your life.

    YOU show us Jesus.

    I love you.

  29. 34

    Tyler says

    Thanks so much for this…I have read it a few times now and keep coming back to it because it so fits where we are in life. Such a good reminder that he will carry us through…even when the problems do seem too big and scary. Be blessed friend, you are doing good good things. Tyler

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>