Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday, July 5, 2010

Group devotions were back to being at 5am. During outreach this morning, there was an interesting event that happened. Ana-Maria and Lwimba and I were sent out together. She and I would lead and he would interpret. Our topic was the State of the Dead. We only hit two houses. Ana-Maria did the first house. There were probably 20 people sitting outside listening, including children. People would walk past and join us. They were very receptive. Then I did the second house. The couple seemed very receptive too. Then he asked about when someone dies and people see what physically looks like that person. He was wondering what that is. It had happened there and scared all the villagers. I let Ana-Maria take that one and discuss the witch of Endor. Then he asked about clean and unclean foods, specifically fish, and brought us his fish, split in half and hanging open, gutted, and asked if it was be an abomination to eat it. We all laughed and said no.
When we had our debriefing of our experiences in the field, Ana-Maria excitedly told everyone that I had given a Bible study to Michenchi. Everyone was surprised and asked “How’d he respond?” “What’d he say?” Ana-Maria didn’t have the same interpretation of his reaction of acceptance as I did. I just sat there confused, wondering how they knew who he was. I don’t remember if I verbally asked who he was or if they saw my state of confusion and just responded, “Oh, he’s the village witch doctor!” Just said like matter of factly. I was now surprised, not confused. Ana-Maria said “Why do you think I was praying so hard for you?” I told her “I didn’t know you were praying but thank you!” I gave a Bible study on the State of the Dead to a witch doctor! Praise the Lord she didn’t tell me who he was before hand! I started praying that I’d said things correctly and that he’d gotten the message that he needed.
After lunch of homemade pizza pockets with Imana, Marleen braided my hair. Two young girls starred at us the whole time. Children in both villages were fascinated with my hair, wondering if it was real. When we’d returned from outreach, I found out that I was to be leaving with TC and Lwimba. TC was too busy talking, so around 5:30pm, Lwimba and I started walking the 6 miles back to Muchinshi. We didn’t really know which path to take. An older gentleman corrected us at one point and sent us toward the power tower. We ended up taking the path past the clinic and stopping by the crusade site before making it back to the church. The worst part of the trip was actually getting from the crusade site to the church. As we didn’t have a flashlight, we tried to stay on the main paths, thinking they went in the same direction as the smaller ones. We then missed the small entrance to the big path by the soccer field and had to go back. Good thing there was a frame for the soccer net. All the navigating within Muchinshi was done by me since Lwimba was only there for a few hours before we left for Kapampa. TC finally met up with us as he biked across the soccer field.

With gusto in their voices, Mushinka and TC taught us how to eat. You have to say "MMmm! MMMmmm! This is Powerful!!"

Eating Sugar Cane 101: I failed!

Public Well

Staff Toilet (no flush necessary)

Most of Team John: Teacher, Elder, Lwimba, TC, visitor, Ana-Maria, myself, James. Missing: Lembe, Mushinka, and Marleen

myself, Ana-Maria, Marleen

I was excited to see Chama and Tecla again. I ate and went to the crusade site. There weren’t many children there that night, it was pretty cold. I got back to the church around 9:45 and thankfully Michelle had made it back by then. Their van broke down and they had to walk the last 8K there without light. So we did the same distance but at least we had sun for the first half. And they had to leave most of their luggage in the van. Of course, Michelle and I didn’t go to bed right away and stayed up talking. It was good to be together again!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday, July 4, 2010

We got to sleep in till 6am again! After breakfast, we just did cleaning all morning. Cleaned the classrooms. Did laundry. Marleen tried cornrowing my hair but it didn’t work. During children’s time that afternoon I actually told a story. Lwimba interpreted for me. I told the story of Noah with the lesson of the importance of listening to God. I had given all of the children an animal sticker and had them participate in the story. The crusade was on the Sabbath. TC asked Ana-Maria and I to sit with the children. Although that worked at Muchinshi, I think we were more of a distraction here.

Our kitchen and stove

Girls' bedroom. Good thing there was only three of us.

Making Melodies in My Heart! They loved that song!
(Special Thanks to Israel and Abi Conway for teaching it to me!!)

Can you find me?!

Lembe was a powerful speaker!
Lwimba did a great job at speaking the interpretation powerfully as well!

With more reflection, here is what I’d read for my devotions Saturday morning that had stuck with me to the next morning:

Colossians 1:9-12. “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with then knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.” I need to pray this prayer for people. I need to pray for people’s salvation. Back at home and here on Chilubi.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy 20th Birthday, Michael!!!!
We slept in till 6am today! We held church in one of the classrooms. As I was new to the village, they wanted me up front during the service. I did the health talk and shared how the largest meal is to be eaten in the morning and smallest at night, giving time for the stomach to rest. The medical student, Lwimba, interpreted for me then made it more culture-specific by mentioning how people don’t eat in the morning because they go out fishing and eat big when they come home. After church, Marleen had made enough food on Friday for everyone who had attended church to eat. We served everyone then we ate. There was plenty of food! I liked that they did this! At the first village, when we would have children at our place when it came time to eat, all but once they sent the children away. We would not have been hurting had we shared a little food. I do see the problem, though, that the children would have ran and got more children then we would have had an issue with too many coming. I had that problem just with passing out stickers. At 2pm we held the baptismal class in the classroom. Then Ana-Maria and I went to teach the children before the crusade. The topic was the Law of God.

The congregation in a classroom

I did a lot of reflection this day. Here is an entry from my journal reflecting on the family we’d met on outreach the day before:

I feel so selfish, yet hopeless. I have so much I don’t need. I have more in my suitcase than some people here own. And I have so much more at home. And think that I need certain things for certain events. But one lady only has one dress. I may have problems paying for all my needs: car, gas, phone, food-with just the money I make, but I have a car. I have a phone. I have enough food for at least three meals a day. And if something happens that I may need more money, my parents will send me some. I am not needy in anyway. I want to give away everything in my suitcase. But even having said all this, I find myself making excuses. The skirts I have, my aunt just made me. I would like to bring some chitanges home. I’ll never go to San Francisco again. But are these good enough excuses? I’ll probably leave the chitanges here and buy more in Lusaka the day we leave. But what about the lack of food? Even when the cassava comes up in three years, that family can’t live on just cassava. Their variety of veggies and fruit is SO limited. Giving them one good meal won’t change much. God help us!

Friday, July 2, 2010

I didn’t sleep very well last night. The morning starts at 5:00am on this team. Everything then follows as usual. Outreach was shorter today because we had to prepare for the Sabbath. Ana-Maria, Lembe, and I were grouped together. They are a lot poorer here than in Muchinshi. We visited a family close by the crusade site. I later found out that that was a bar and after a previous visit from the missionaries, they agreed to turn their music down. A lady at another house only had the clothes on her back and was caring for her 5 grandchildren, the oldest of which seemed 8, who were cooking cassava leaves just so they could eat something. They lady was quite old and out in the garden that wouldn’t produce cassava for a couple more years. Ana-Maria’s reflection was that those in western hemisphere who look at the poverty in Africa wonder how there is a God, but those in African countries, in the middle of that poverty, have no problem believing in God. It’s the blessed hope and the promise of heaven that they hold on to. “Western society looks at Africa and wonders how God exists, but Africans don’t have a problem believing in God.”

The only cat I saw on the island!! It liked Ana-Maria's shoes.

The lady thought it was funny that we wanted to try pounding their cassava!

Lunch is also earlier. Rather than eating our second meal around 6pm we ate it at 1:30pm. The guys were teasing Ana-Maria because she was so excited to have rice. I told her we needed some kim with the rice and that I liked kimchi and japche. She replied with “I love you, girl!” The health screening was then from 2-4:30pm. The only supplies that we had were a black bag that each team was given, and what few meds we’d brought from Muchinshi the day before. The bag had a couple types of Tylenol, a weird thing of gauze, and some other stuff. And the meds we’d brought were things I didn’t know. We didn’t even have saline. I didn’t know how we were supposed to treat anyone. And a one time treatment of Tylenol won’t do much.
Then Ana-Maria and I did children’s ministry. They came to the school during the screening knowing that it was time for her to teach them. She had to leave and went with them out back to the crusade site with all of them joyfully following. They love her! And they know no English. But it was still fun! Before the crusade, Ana-Maria, Marleen, TC, and Lembe sang “Nothing Between.” The crusade was about Stewardship. When he was talking about time, he said Satan is very responsible with his time, roaming the earth like a roaring lion ready to attack. We need to be responsible with the time God has given us, and use it properly to spread His word. Two children answered the call to give their lives to Christ after the crusade.

Ana-Maria's fan club!

By the way, the stars out here are AMAZING!!! I tried to take a picture but it didn't work:(  I would walk looking up. Turn in circles, trying to take it all in. So many stars! It was so bright! It was beautiful!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Part of the “plans have kind of changed” that Michael mentioned on Tuesday was that Michelle and I would be splitting up so that we could have nurses in more villages. She volunteered to go to the more remote village so she was leaving first. We took some pictures and, as the rest of us headed out for outreach, Michael and Chama took Michelle to another village. I couldn’t quite focus during outreach and since Daniel was experiencing side effects of his anti-malarial medication, and none of our contacts could speak English, the Zambian missionary we were paired with did most of the talking. After outreach, we were paired up and told to pray with and for each other. I had some quality bonding time with some of the missionaries!

The only personal garden that I saw

I finally left for my village at 5pm. They kept asking me if I knew how to ride a bike. I didn’t realize they meant ride on the BACK of a bike. Michael strapped my suitcase onto the luggage rack on his bike. The med student, who had just arrived, strapped his stuff to his bike. And I sat on the luggage rack, stratling Derek’s seat, as I held on to the back of his shirt. That was an interesting 6 mile ride. I was thankful for the coat that was between me and the rack! Since we left so late, it got dark before we got to our destination. Derek would whistle when he saw that he was coming up on someone so they would know to move over. The crusade was going on when I arrived. Afterward, we had a quick review of the day and I was introduced to the team. This was team John, staying at a school in Kapampa.

Riding in style! There are no pegs for my feet, just the screws.
Good thing Derek is a good driver!

The school teacher who let us use his building, while school was in progress

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I’d kind of gotten drafted to give devotions this morning. I shared from Matthew chapter 10 saying that God will give us the words to say when we are giving Bible studies. We had the normal morning routine of personal devotions, exercise, preparation, breakfast, and Bible study training. Instead of going door-to-door, Michelle, Daniel Park, and I joined Dr. Tim at the clinic.
Antwan was a local nurse there. There was one doctor to cover every clinic and hospital on the island and he was out sick. Antwan took it upon himself to run this clinic! Michelle and I triaged the patients before they were seen. As soon as one mother brought a child to me, all the mothers brought their children. I was actually more comfortable with the children. So after I triaged the children, they were seen by another local nurse and after Michelle triaged the adults, they were either seen by Antwan or Dr. Tim. Daniel was assisting Dr. Tim. We saw about 50 patients between Michelle and I. At some point during all that, Dr. Tim told us that a baby had been brought to him with a hemoglobin of 4. I was afraid the girl was going to die, but thankfully they had the necessary supplies to treat her and save her life! After seeing all the patients, a mother returned to me with her young boy. This time she uncovered him so that I could see his feet. Even without interpretation, I could tell that she wanted me to do something to fix his club feet. It broke my heart to tell her that there was nothing that I could do. As Dr. Tim deemed it necessary to bring the baby to the main hospital on the island to receive further care, he left Michelle, Daniel, and I at the clinic. We assisted with what we could for a little while before returning back to our house.

Chilubi Rural Health Centre

Delivery table

Sick baby girl

During the children’s program, Michelle shared a couple more Bible stories. As part of song service, Michelle, Chama, and I were asked to sing a song. We decided to sing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” to the tune of “Come Thou Fount.” It worked out quite well! Michelle and I sat with the children again that evening. All of a sudden, during the health talk, all the children got up and moved in the direction of Michelle. A few seconds later, they all came back and sat down. Christabel told me that it was because Michelle had caught a frog. I just laughed and shook my head. Everyone went back to paying attention to the presentation and the Bible study on the signs of the second coming.
At the beginning of the crusade, a young girl came up to us girl missionaries and thanked Chama and Tecla for praying for her earlier that day(although they didn’t remember her) and that she was feeling better. When the crusade was over, this girl joined the group up front requesting prayer. A few minutes later, she dropped and started shaking, and the guy missionaries started casting a demon out of her. I had never experienced anything like this before, but I knew I had to pray. That’s a night I’ll probably never forget.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Our first morning on the island, group devotions were at 5:30am. Well, they were supposed to be. Then we had personal devotion time, exercise, and breakfast of Imana and Nshima. Imana is a soy protein source that we brought with us. Nshima is a staple food on the island. It looks like cream of wheat but is made from corn meal and eaten with your fingers. We had Bible study training around 8:30 to learn how to share the second coming with people. I was paired with Panji so that he would be able to interpret for me. Door-to-door ministry is done differently here. When we walk up to the door, the host pulls out a mat or log for us to sit on. We explain who we are and that we’d like to share a Bible study with whoever in the house is interested. It seemed, more than not, people were interested in the study! We talked with a few people, giving them the study and inviting them to the evening crusade. At our last house, we met two guys about our age. They were fluent in English and actually went into their house to grab their English Bibles to study the second coming with us. They were fully engaged in the conversation and even asked questions about the state of the dead. Too bad we talked about that on the previous night during the crusade. But they were still interested in coming to future crusades! This made me excited about doing ministry!
After outreach, those of us who had just arrived were to separate for our respective villages. Michael said a phrase that we learned to expect throughout the trip. “Plans have kind of changed.” He asked Michelle and I to stay back for a couple days and help Dr. Tim in the clinic instead. So we joined the team at the crusade site and helped them run the health screening. Chama ran registration. Michelle and I did blood pressures. Isaac checked BMI. Daniel looked for cataracts. Then everyone waited in a nice long time to talk to Dr. Tim for health consultation. Edwin was at the end of the row for spiritual advising. We were able to see about 30 people that afternoon but unfortunately had to turn many away due to time constraints.

Chama and Mushinka ran registration. Michelle and I checked blood pressures

Villagers waiting to speak with Dr. Tim

The next event was the children’s program. Chama began to sing with them and teach them Genesis 1:1. The children pronounced it “Genesis one versE one.” They said the E at the end of a lot of words. Michelle and I joined them in singing and Michelle told them the story of Cain and Abel. There were about 50 kids and they listened very well as Michelle spoke in English and Chama interpreted. They were able to answer all the questions afterward. We went back for a quick meal before the crusade. It’d been almost 12 hours since breakfast, but thankfully it didn’t seem like it. We returned for more songs and storytelling with the children until the crusade started at 7. Christabel found me again! The topic was spiritualism and witchcraft. It definitely wasn’t as quiet as the previous night. I kept looking around and it never seemed as anyone was talking. The adults and the children all seemed to be listening(on my side), but there just seemed to be a noise in the air, making it hard to concentrate. Considering the topic, that is understandable. I started praying for the devil to leave so people could hear the message. At the end of the meeting, Michelle and I got hounded by kids wanting to shake our hands. It was kind of funny. But then they all started asking us to pray for them. Of course I did it in English and tried to keep my wording simple. They would laugh when I finished and others would grab my hands and ask for prayer too. It was kind of awkward but I hoped they were getting some kind of blessing out of it.

Michelle telling the children a story

Praying for the children

In getting ready for bed that night, we had a little incident with a big, orange, furry spider in the outhouse. Sorry, Michelle, for questioning your status as a country girl. I would have used a different hut too! This day, I also learned a new phrase in Bemba. “Mulishani mwebasungu!” means “Hello, white people!”

Monday, June 28, 2010

We got to Samfya at 2am and were met at the bus stop by a few drunk men. We waited an hour for someone to bring us to the lodge where we were staying. We prayed together as a group and immediately separated for what little sleep we could get before morning. Although Michelle, Lily, and I had to share a bed, we were happy to have a bed. We even had a mosquito net! We joked about the song “The little one said: Roll Over, Roll Over! And they all rolled over and one fell off,” and hoped none of us would roll too much.

Our charter bus at our destination at 2am

We slept till 6, took our baths, and got our stuff ready to wait at the dock. We were getting pretty good at taking sponge baths in boiled water! After devotions, we loaded the Post Boat and headed out to our islands. We dropped Nasi off to her group on Mbabala Island and Jones off with his on Chishi Island. Everyone else went going to Chilubi Island. Nasi repeated multiple times that this was going to be rough. “Common luxuries aren’t common here.” I was kind of nervous just because it was something new. But I was trying not to have expectations.

The Post Boat we took to our islands. The lake is Lake Bangweulu.

After landing on Chilubi Island, we were immediately surrounded by children at our pile of luggage. We walked to the church where we would be staying and met the rest of the missionary team that had arrived the week before. Chama made us some dinner: potatoes, onions, Imana, and tomato paste boiled and put over rice. It was good! Then we joined everyone at the crusade (evening Bible study lecture for the villagers). Michelle and I were asked to sit with the children to keep them quiet. I quickly made friends with a young girl named Christabel. She was pretty fluent in English. During song service, we used her Bemba hymnal to sing along. I knew the songs by the melody and I pronounced her words as best I could. At the end of the crusade, we prayed together as missionaries and went back to the church. We had a quick group reflection time then went to bed. This was Team Matthew in Muchinshi.

One of the first signs you see when you reach the island.
The faded part on top says "HIV/AIDS"

Some of our welcome party!!

They followed us to the church

Team Matthew: Martyn, Michelle, Herris, Chama, Edwin, Derek, Isaac, Tecla, John, Daniel, Michael. Missing: Benji

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday morning we took advantage of being able to sleep in. After eating breakfast and prepping lunch, we headed to the church to pick up others and then to the bus station. Us girls were told to stay in the car until we knew which bus to get on. There were people everywhere. Talking, wanting to talk to us, wanting to sell us things. It reminded me of Paris and the people coming up to you on the streets.
We left the station around 3:30pm. A guy got on the bus with us and started preaching when the bus left the station. He stayed on for a few stops, collected an offering, and got off before the bus left Lusaka. I was excited that this 10 hour bus ride was on a charter bus! We had the back of the bus to ourselves and had a good conversation/Bible study about relationships. As it got dark, we broke off into smaller conversations and ate the dinner that we’d prepared earlier. In the middle of the trip, I got to experience a public bus stop restroom. You grab the amount of pink toilet paper you want before going into the bathroom. The toilets don’t flush. No trash can. They had soap! Pay 1,000 kwacha(Zambian currency) per person when leaving. Pretend you don’t speak English on your way on and off the bus so people don’t sell you anything, since we obviously didn’t speak the local languages.
As it got later, it seemed the movies that the bus driver was playing were getting louder, which made it difficult to sleep. I think I slept for an hour or two.

Our guest speaker on the bus

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My first full day in Zambia was the Sabbath! When we got to the church, Sabbath School was happening in many groups outside. I had to choose a place where I could hide from the sun! During the main church service that day we had communion. When we were told to find a partner for footwashing, all of us foreigners were just standing outside. A lady came up and put her arm in mine and asked if I had a partner yet. When I said no, she brought me over to get some water and a towel. It was during church that I got my first impression of Zambian singers! They’re great!
Afterward, we met up with the youth from another church and went to Amaka Lodge for lunch and Bible study. During lunch, Michelle and I questioned Nasi and Chama about what to expect on Chilubi Island, as far as cultural expectations, and learned some of the language (Bemba). “Muli Shani” means “How are you” and “Mukwai” is added at the end to make it proper.
We stayed there for most of the day, then returned to the Muungo’s for dinner and sleep. I was thinking about what God showed me during the church service: that I worry too much. For a shy girl, this new environment took a little getting used to. The next day we were to have a 10 hour over night bus ride, then a boat ride to the island, with no electricity, no running water, possibly no house to sleep in, lots of mosquitoes, bad water… I was trying not to be nervous. There was nothing I could do at that point. Just pray and know God was taking care of us.

Lusaka Central Seventh Day Adventist Church

The Mosque across the street from the church/Conference Headquarters

Friday, June 25, 2010

I didn't sleep too well on the plane. It was 8 hours to Rome, one hour layover to fuel up, then 5 hours to Ethiopia. When we got to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, we had to hurry to our next plane because our flight from DC had been delayed, so our connection flight was waiting for us. We were told to cut in front of people at a gate now lined up heading to a different country. It felt kind of rude but thankfully there were quite a few of us that were late for this flight. After another fuel up in Harare, Zimbabwe, we finally landed in Lusaka, Zambia at 3:30pm local time. I was a little nervous about going through customs but it was actually MUCH easier to enter Zambia than it is to reenter America from Canada. Hmm…
Our welcome party at the airport was Michael Likuluta and Jones Simamba from IMPACT Zambia, Lazarus from a local Adventist church, and Dr. Tim Riesenberger from America. IMPACT stands for Inspired Missionaries Proclaiming the Advent of Christ Today. It is a group of young Adventist adults in Zambia who are spreading God’s Word to people within their country and in others. Uncle Lazarus then drove us around town. It was a little scary at first, turning left on a red light (they drive on the left side of the road there). We passed an outdoor wedding and the American Embassy, stopped by a grocery store for some water, then arrived at the Muungo family’s home. During introductions and Bible study, Nasilele Namakando and Chimuka Muungo prepared us dinner: chapatti! The girls(Michelle, Lily, and I) stayed there with Chimuka, Lungwani, and their younger sisters, while the guys stayed somewhere else. After 24 hours on a plane, it was nice to sleep on a bed!!
First impression of Zambia: There are people everywhere. They walk down every street and highway.

One leg of our 24 hour trip

A sign as you're leaving the airport from the United Bank for Africa

Lungwani and Chimuka Muungo, our gracious hosts

The youngest in our host family

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Not even two months after discussing a shared interest in missions, my friend Michelle Middleton and I were asked to go on a mission trip with Eastern Canada Youth Conference (ECYC). Two and a half weeks on an island in Northern Zambia between the months of June and July. We didn’t realize our dream would be coming true so soon! God was about to show us some things we could have never imagined! In these next few posts, I'll be sharing with you my experience on this trip.

Thursday, June 24, 2010
After a night full of packing and repacking, we took a shower since we didn’t know when our next one was going to be, slept for an hour, and then headed to the airport at 3:45am. We had a short flight from Detroit to Washington, DC. While waiting in the terminal to board our next plane, someone called our names. It was Daniel Cho and Lily Kim from ECYC. We had never met them before but they recognized our faces from facebook(that’s a little scary). We continued with them for the rest of the trip. From DC we took Ethiopian Airlines! “The New Spirit of Africa.” They have huge planes! And they are very comfortable and accommodating! Even very apologetic when they dump spaghetti sauce on you! We spent this time reading through Bible studies, preparing for the work we were to do upon arrival to Zambia. I was feeling a little overwhelmed, and unprepared for this opportunity God was giving me.
Michelle and I, ready to board the plane

Sunrise between Detroit and Washington, DC

Ethiopian Airlines: The New Spirit of Africa

Steps to Christ, Chapter 13-Rejoicing in the Lord

"If your are Christ's follower, He sends in you a letter to the family, the village, the street, where you live" (p.115). I never thought of my witness as a letter before. If people do not read the Bible, and I profess to read the Bible, they will read me to find what the Bible says. Whether I act in accordance with the Bible or not, if I profess to read it, how I act is what people will conclude the Bible says. Wherever I am, my actions and words influence what people think about God.
Our countenance shows the peace we have or don’t have from Christ’s love. If we are always complaining about our situation or the people around us, we belittle the provision that God gives us and the love Christ has for others. If we share our worry, we are showing that we don’t trust God to take care of us. If we are depressed it seems as if God doesn’t love us and that His sacrifice means nothing to us. If we focus on the negative aspects of life, others may think that God doesn’t want us to be happy. This is how Satan wants us to feel. He wants us to doubt God’s loving interaction in our lives. He wants us to mistrust God and ignore the fact that Christ saved us from our sins and that we only need to accept that sacrifice. Satan wants us to blame God for the trials and misfortunes in our lives.
This does not mean that we should expect our lives to be perfect. There will still be trials, pain, and disappointments, but those don’t have to determine our reaction. We must pay attention to the roses not the thorns. If we look on the positive side of things, learn a lesson from the trials, hold on to God’s love through the pain, and share that love with others though they may disappoint us, this is how we can be a representative of Christ and others can read in us the peace that He gives in all circumstances. “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you,” 1 Peter 5:7. Christ is our only source of help.
All of us have received many blessings from God. If we would take 10 minutes to list the blessings we have received in the last 24 hours, we wouldn’t even get close to the true number. We take too much for granted. It may be song lyrics, but they can be applied here. “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” Most of us assume we are going to wake up healthy, but one morning we wake up frustrated that we have a sore throat, not content that it wasn’t something worse. You may be upset about your work situation, but what if your employer had to downsize and you were let go? If that was the only job you could get back, would you take it? What if you have to take a long trip and the weather is supposed to be bad, but you don’t see a single snowflake? What you don’t know is that the storm is following you; God just won’t let it touch you. “Some difficulty may really exist which, though small, blinds their eyes to the many things that demand gratitude” (p.122).
Sure there will be times when you wake up sick, when you’re unemployed, or when you’re driving in the middle of the storm, but this is not what we are to focus on. “It is not wise to gather together all the unpleasant recollections of a past life,--its iniquities and disappointments,--to talk over them and mourn over them until we are overwhelmed with discouragement. A discouraged soul is filled with darkness, shutting out the light of God from his own soul and casting a shadow upon the pathway of others” (p.117). Focusing on the negative turns us and others away from God’s love.
Do we see God as some creator way out there that every once in a while plays a small part in our lives, or do we see Him as a loving Father who wants what’s best for us? “How would a mother feel if her children were constantly complaining of her, just as though she did not mean them well, when her whole life's effort had been to forward their interests and to give them comfort? Suppose they should doubt her love; it would break her heart. How would any parent feel to be thus treated by his children? And how can our heavenly Father regard us when we distrust His love, which has led Him to give His only-begotten Son that we might have life? The apostle writes, "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" Romans 8:32. And yet how many, by their actions, if not in word, are saying, "The Lord does not mean this for me. Perhaps He loves others, but He does not love me"” (p.118). God personally created, loves, and died for each of us. We must consider Him a parent and how He would feel if, after showing us so much love, we just ignore Him.
The devil wants us to distrust God and tries his hardest to make us do so. He knows our weaknesses and tempts us. Being tempted is not a sin. It’s giving into temptation that can get us into trouble. We can start questioning God’s actions in our lives. If we share these thoughts with others, they might do the same in their lives. This could have a chain reaction of turning people away from God. “By our unconscious influence others may be encouraged and strengthened, or they may be discouraged, and repelled from Christ and the truth” (p.120). This does not mean that we should not share our burdens with others in order to ask them to pray for us. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” When someone shares their burdens with you, “let praise to God be on your lips and in your heart. This will attract his thoughts to Jesus” (p.119). It is also important that we ourselves pray to God about our trials and read His word. If we are not looking for God to help us, how will we know when He does? Prayer and reading the Bible are two ways that God uses to reveal His love, compassion, and will in our lives.
When we pray for God’s will to be done in our lives, we must be ready to play our part. When we know that we are actively following God, we can have the comfort that no matter what happens to us, God is always with us and everything will work out for our good in the end. John 16:33 says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Matthew 6 tells us that God provides for the needs of the birds of the air and questions us as to if we believe that we are more precious to the Father than the birds. If He provides for them, how much more will He provide for us. But He does not drop the food into the birds’ mouths. He gives them the insight and knowledge on how to find the necessary food, feed their young, and build their nests. It’s the same as when God does not tell us all the details of our future. He asks us to walk in faith, trusting that when we take a step in His direction, He is providing for us. Matthew 6 continues, telling us that not only does God provide food for the birds, but also beautiful clothing for the grass and flowers. Again, how much more will he provide these necessities to us? It is His purpose that our joy may be complete (John 15:11). “If we do not have the pleasures of this life we may still be joyful in looking to the life beyond” (p. 124-125). In the end, it is not our possessions on this earth that will matter, but the hope we have in a life with Christ when He returns.
If we live with Christ in our lives, his love and compassion will be expressed through our words and actions. When Christ was on earth, He felt and experienced the woes of this world. He did not, however, come here to receive our comfort. He came here to comfort us; to give us peace and joy. He did not give us these from the perfection of heaven. He wanted us to know that He knew how we felt. He was tempted just like us. Experienced happiness and grief just like us. And yet, He was still focused on helping others. We cannot help others if we dwell on their faults and imperfections. How do our faults and imperfections compare to Jesus, and yet He still humbled himself to help us. We must humble ourselves to people in any situation and share with them the love of God.
We now have a choice. When a trial, temptation, or discouragement comes our way, how will we handle it? “Let us look to the monumental pillars, reminders of what the Lord has done to comfort us and to save us from the hand of the destroyer. Let us keep fresh in our memory all the tender mercies that God has shown us,--the tears He has wiped away, the pains He has soothed, the anxieties removed, the fears dispelled, the wants supplied, the blessings bestowed,--thus strengthening ourselves for all that is before us…” (p.125). We must believe that, no matter what the problem is, God will give us the necessary strength to overcome it. Nothing will happen to us that is too strong for us to handle, with God’s help.