There are moments where I really struggle. Struggle because I search endlessly for words to describe what we are experiencing. For words to describe how different this place is from where we “grew up”. Not that it’s ‘THAT’ bad or wrong or insufficient for our needs. Truly these past few months although have been challenging have been eye-opening. Sure we can look at the mind-boggling statistics (*Nearly half the world’s population, 2.8 billion people, survive on less than $2 a day.*About 20 percent of the world’s population, 1.2 billion people, live on less than $1 a day. *Nearly 1 billion people are illiterate and 1 billion do not have safe water.) and be challenged to look at our own lives and feel blessed or bad or detach ourselves from the “rest of the world” because after all they are a very long plane ride away. We can look at how hard it’s been to live without refrigeration, salad, carpeting, chicken, understanding or to live free from mold and bugs. We can spend all day comparing what we know to where we are. Complain, cry, grieve, feel lost and wake up and do it all over again the next day.
We have been rocked at our core. Not because of seeing the financial poverty or the fact that most of our lives including now we have not lacked anything substantial. Not because we look at our ‘suffering’ in our current circumstances. But more because of the state of our hearts. We come from a place of privilege. Let me restate that. Privilege by the standards of finance. It’s hard to ignore because it’s blaring in our faces at every turn. It’s how we are judged and determines how people treat us. (It works both ways. Those in financial poverty face the same judgement.) However being judged aside, it can distract us from the deeper issue. We are all living in poverty. We are all living in desperation. We are all in the same boat. And there is a hole in that boat.
The hole looks like ‘enough food’ for one person, ‘relationships’ or ‘healthcare’ for the next. But for all of us it is desperation to be known and loved by our creator. We are all desperate to be free from the fears that haunt us. Desperate to keep our hearts alive. Or numb the pain that we feel when our hearts are broken from loss, or from hoping so long for something that is just not happening.
Sometimes suffering is our friend. It walks with us and opens our eyes to our desperate need for God and his unfailing love. It drives us back to Him or leads us on a search to find Him. He is there.
What does it mean to be a missionary? I have been struggling with this question as we have taken the huge plunge to be cross-cultural ‘missionaries’. What am I supposed to be feeling, thinking, doing here? Why do I feel so lost most of the time? I have felt on many occasions a frustration with the treatment we some times get from being a foreigner and trying to make a life here. (After I state that I just want to be clear that the majority of people are welcoming and wonderful.) But nonetheless sometimes the few cause my heart to grieve. Misconceptions and ignorance about the way each of us live and function causes hurt and frustration. When its directed at me I feel like “We are just here to help! Why are you treating me this way!” Then I started to think about those statements. Truly I am not ‘just’ here to help. I am here because God called our family here. For however long and for whatever His purposes are. When I start to take things personally I lose sight of the savior. I lose sight of my own desperate need for him. I am placing myself higher than those I came to serve.
We have so much to learn about in this new life that God has called us too. I am sure many things will get easier and many things will still seem so frustrating. But what really brings relief is that God has called us here. His arm is not too short to save. He does not bring people somewhere to abandon them and this is His show not ours.
“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deut. 31:8