My brain is full and my heart is heavy. We have been on the field since 2001 and have been through sickness (even near-death sickness), loneliness and isolation, threats and danger. However, the past three months have been the most difficult we have ever experienced: pain in relationships, confusion from Satan, waiting with nothing that we can do, ministry on hold because of the whole mess and the wrongs done. These are difficulties that affect everything—and people can really hurt people.
I have come to realize, more and more, that I am a very discerning person—I can just feel to the core when something is right or wrong. It is not something I talk about much or go on about, because how do you explain it? I just knew things were going very wrong during those first difficult weeks, as I was distraught like never before.
Since then, we have gone through all the emotions. Sometimes it seems like our eight years of learning and ministry were ruined or stolen in a matter of days. Our conclusion over and over is that Satan has his hand in this. The confusion points right to him. We do know God is at work if Satan is trying to attack so viciously. I admit it has also been one of the times in my life that I have had to hang on to Jesus with all my might, because it is all by faith and not sight. Everything around us is painful, confusion, a mess, feeling upset, stressful, and unending. I have to daily (sometimes moment-by-moment) choose to believe the truth, and trust God and His Word. I do not always feel it, but I choose to believe it. It is a roller coaster. I am tired and low from the continual hurt and wrongs that will not end. To whom do we go? With whom do we talk? We live in a village in Africa, and all the white people know each other. Not everyone at home understands, especially considering the uniqueness of the field; you cannot say too much, or you are too tired to say it (plus, who wants to say it over Skype?). I needed to be held.
Each day we choose to spend time in God’s Word and in prayer, knowing His truth will sustain us. He will lead our emotions, give us wisdom, and provide assurance. Some days it is an act of obedience, but I am telling you there is nothing other than God and His Word that will get you through difficult times! The promises that God gives us are true. They are what give me enough strength to go on another day, to believe God is with us and at work. I have no hope unless I truly trust God.
One of the big promises I hold on to is that God is our Defender. Everything we have done has been viewed wrongly, so we have to trust God will defend us. I also cling to God as my Refuge. He is my place of safety and peace. He is my Shield, protecting me, and my Rock in the storm. When emotions go everywhere, He is my stability.
The Psalms are an amazing expression of all we have cried out. Like David we have prayed to God in our pain, tears, anger, confusion, stress, and fear … crying out to Him to hear and answer us. After the despair and complaints, almost every psalm of David ends with praise and trust in God. That is my prayer, over and over. I am completely honest with God (He can handle all of me); I am broken before Him. I share my hurt, anger, and my sin. In the end, I know God is God. He is in control, and I trust Him. He is worthy of all our praise.
So here we are. There are no answers or conclusion yet. We are still dealing with all that has happened, but somehow, now I have much more peace. The situation is not over and the future is unsure, but we know what we need to do. My husband and I have chosen to forgive. We seek reconciliation, but we can only do our part. We are seeking the Lord’s will so we can follow obediently. Right now we know God has called us to serve Him here where we are.
We are also seeking counsel from wise, godly leaders in our lives. This week God sent three different people who affirmed us and shared great wisdom. We were very encouraged by this. Also, I have been reading Blessed are the Peacemakers by Neil Anderson about Christ’s ministry of reconciliation that is given to us. I liked his definition of forgiveness: “forgiveness is accepting the consequence of someone else’s sin.” It is not fair, but it is God’s way.
I am seeking the Lord to know what it looks like to love others. Jesus loved all yet was not friends with some. He even yelled and called names when people were in the wrong. Yet He is love. I know my love can only come from Him.
Questions to consider: What wisdom have you gained from hardships on the field?