I hate it here.
That is all there is to it. The heat. The bugs. The constant shoving of powerful drugs into my kids’ bodies just to keep them semi-healthy. The oppression and injustice and poverty I see every single time I step outside my house. Problems I am powerless to fix.
My kids can eat meat on a daily basis and take medicine when they need it and get good schooling. They wear good-quality clothes and shoes that fit. They have birthday parties and decorate Christmas cookies and went to Disneyland the last time we were in the States. They have a future because of their passport and the color of their skin and the language they were born speaking. Their little national friends dream of such luxuries and will never attain them, simply because of their nationality and the color of their skin. I hate it—and I am powerless to fix it all.
I am totally exhausted. These past weeks the music has been blaring non-stop all night long. The drunk guys and “bad” kids across the street have been partying. Bob Marley. Elvis Presley. A bunch of songs I cannot make out over the garbled speakers that play all hours of the day and night, pointing straight at our bedroom. My husband finally dug up a couple pairs of ear plugs last night at two o’clock in the morning. They muffled the music, but they did nothing for the beating bass that reverberated through the walls—and there is nothing I can do to stop it.
Today my husband and I went to the nice new hotel in town for lunch, while the boys stayed with some of the guests here at our guest house. We were so looking forward to a break from the busyness of the week. An hour after we had placed our order, they finally brought my husband’s sandwich. Twenty minutes later, when my burger still had not shown up (it was “still cooking,” they said) we walked out. I was in tears. Powerless, powerless—even to order and eat a nice meal.
I hate the feeling of being powerless. Of not knowing all the social rules that govern this land. Of not knowing how to really help those who are in such pain around me. I hate the suffering I see—and I hate the suffering the Lord asks me to endure.
I do not want to endure this journey of sleepless nights and exhausting days. I did not ask for this when I signed up to serve the Lord. Back in America, I have friends who long for children and cannot conceive, and friends who long to be married and are not. They did not ask the Lord for those paths either—He gave them.
Last night as I was lying awake, crying out to the Lord for silence, I remembered the line from the Laura Story song, “What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?” I argued with the Lord. I do not want to know God through sleepless nights. I do not want the lessons He has to teach me through accepting this as from His hand. I do not want to acknowledge that this is HIS doing, that He is using this moment—this dark, loud, sleepless night—to teach me that true rest comes only from Him. That He can use what appears horrible to show His deep, abiding love for me. That what seems cruel—this unanswered prayer—is really His mercy and grace in my life to bring me into a deeper relationship with Him and make me rely on Him more fully.
My issues of liking to feel in control and liking to be able to fix things? They transfer into my relationship with the Lord as well. I want to pick my own testing grounds. Let me get a good night’s sleep, and then I will be ready to do battle for the Lord and accept whatever He has for me to learn. This week, that is not what the Lord has for me. He has exhaustion. He gives headaches and sleeplessness. It is His love for me that brings these into my path. Can I praise Him through these? Can I bring Him glory through this? I am tired. I am very, very tired. Yet is that not the point? That I can do nothing—not even worship the Lord—in my own strength? It is only His Spirit within me that can produce true worship for the King of Kings, and His Spirit never tires.
So should I pray that the music will stop, or that my heart will be humbled before my Maker? Do I want a good night’s sleep more than I want to learn obedience to walk in a manner worthy of my calling, regardless of how tired I am?
Regardless of how tired I am.
Question to consider: Do you want a good night’s sleep more than you want to learn obedience to walk in a manner worthy of my calling?
About the author
Emily Blythe and her husband have been serving the Lord and swatting mosquitos for almost 7 years in the Asia Pacific. Currently, they oversee a mission guest house in a small coastal town. Emily’s days are full of taking care of guests, househelpers, and 3 cape-wearing, sword-wielding little boys. She blogs regularly about life as a cross-cultural mom at 3nakallittleboys.blogspot.com.View all articles by: Emily Blythe
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