It’s amazing how we’re taught in the Church either directly or indirectly that as Christians we will not suffer. That life will somehow be easy (or easier) for us if we trust in the LORD. Then when we do experience crises, we either doubt God because how could God possibly let such a thing happen to one of His followers, or we doubt our own faith because surely if we had just trusted God more then such a thing wouldn’t have happened.
We also somehow expect that if we are Christians then we should have it all together. We should be strong and confident and handle every situation well.
I don’t know where these ideas come from. They are not from the Bible I’ve been reading. The Bible I’ve been reading tells stories of messed up and messy people. It shows people who did have it together but become broken. It details lots and lots of suffering. Yes, God does eliminate the suffering in some cases, but more than that He asks people to depend on Him, trust Him, and continue to praise Him in the midst of suffering. If we think about any of our favourite characters in the Bible, I bet they did not live an easy life. But did they live a life trusting God?
I’m not suffering here. I know people who are, and I’m not. But I have been struggling. Life is difficult in Beira.
I have a colleague here who has been very in tune with my stress and frustrations. She has been fantastic about regularly checking in with me and encouraging me to take breaks if I need to. We had a conversation the other night about my recent struggles. She said I’m in an exciting position to depend on others and depend on God. But everything inside me screams, “I don’t want to depend on others!” I’m an independent person. I want to communicate on my own, get around on my own, take care of my own paperwork, visit schools and do my research without a translator. I don’t like feeling like a child.
But she’s right. It is an exciting position to be in, and I haven’t been taking advantage of it. Depending on others builds relationships. Depending on God does too. How often in the States do I need to depend on God? Rarely. Life is under control there.
In Honduras I prayed all the time. I was seriously constantly in conversation with Him because I was alone and because I could do absolutely nothing on my own. In nearly every situation I would say to Him, “You gotta help me out here because I have no idea how to do this.” And that year was the closest I’ve ever been to Him.
But here I’ve still been trying to do everything on my own. I’m forgetting that I need to talk to God all day and say, “I can’t do this.” And when I do humble myself to say this, He doesn’t magically make life any easier. He doesn’t take away the heat, form everyone in orderly lines in government offices, stop men from hissing at me, suddenly allow me to speak fluent Portuguese, and never make me wait on any person or document. If He did, I probably wouldn’t talk to Him that much. And I would take the credit for getting things done because I would be able to because they would be easy then. Where is the personal, spiritual, or relational growth in that?
I wrote recently in an email: “I appreciate that He does not make life easy for me but instead guides me and comforts me through the difficulties. I learn more that way – about life, about myself, and about Him.” I didn’t say I like it, but I am learning to appreciate it and learning that it’s okay to feel like a 5-year-old and to not have it all together.