“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you, He will never leave you or forsake you” Deut 31:6
These last few weeks and months have been extremely precious, difficult, amazing, inspiring but also one of the hardest seasons of my life. We have had incredible highs where we have been able to rent out a room in a brothel and share the gospel and see the presence of God break-out during worship with the women, we’ve had so much fun having lots of Christmas parties and being able to bless many of the slum families who are dear to our hearts with ways to earn a living, we have watched people weep as God touches their hearts and brings new hope and life, we have seen people healed of sickness and people grow in their faith. We have also had breakthrough in many areas in our team, deeper relationships, the café taking shape and opening this week, more team members who have brought such encouragement and love, the dream centre is busier than ever and the kids are hungry for God, the slums are changing as the presence of God is brought there by the kids! So many things to be thankful for! However I felt to write about the challenges; to be open and honest and share what God is teaching me through it all.
“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him” James 1:12
Being a new mum in a different nation is hard! The cost of being away from family is so much more tangible, plus everything is harder; no pavements to walk with a pram, its continuously hot, no parks, no good hospitals, no mums groups, no places to go and play with other children, no one else around me that understands the daily challenges and struggles. It has been really hard! Constantly questioning is it OK that Grace is surrounded by children who are from the slums and the streets, children covered in lice and dirt and who don’t know how to behave? Questioning whether she feels secure in a strange place where she is given so much attention? As she is so different from everyone else, when she gets sick where can I go to take her? Whether she is really missing out as the people who love her the most are the other side of the world? Is the cost of the daily struggle worth it? Many of the things God has put on my heart and showed me are not a reality right now; sometimes it feels the wait for his promises is so long. It’s during these times of reflection Satan loves to come and bring discouragement; he lies and questions absolutely everything about our identity and our value. Did God really call us or are we deluded? Are we even worthy to be used by Him? Are we wasting our lives? The many times I have wanted to give up and go home and have a “normal” life, with a nice house and a good job and a “ safe secure “ future for Grace. This would be so easy! The world teaches us that our value lies in what we achieve or what we have. God teaches us our value is in Him and that nothing pleases Him more than our faith and trust in Him. When things are hard is when we really get tested; can we trust God even when everything in us wants to give up and run away?
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14
What I initially thought was “the worst/hardest season” I am realising is the most important! I have been learning that God allows us to face trials to see whether he can trust us with what he wants to give us. Its only when we see how broken and weak we are we are humble enough for God to raise us up.
Graham Cooke puts it this way ; there are 4 stages which we all go through when God wants to raise us up into the promises He has for us– Decree (the prophetic word or promise God gives us) followed by a period of Despair or trials which leads us to Development of our character followed by the Display of his promises made manifest in our lives. Lets look at Joseph ; he had the amazing promises from God of being a leader and having such authority and power soon after which he is sold into slavery by the people who should have protected him and loved him the most. The level of pain and despair must have been overwhelming and such a shock as it was the opposite of his promise! Years and years later though we see what an amazing man he is as he forgives his brothers. He saw how God allowed this to happen to make him into man God wanted him to be. However he had a choice; in the very hardest seasons when he was put in jail and probably felt like there was no hope he could have become bitter, hopeless, given up on God, questioned the prophetic promises OR trusted God, that He is in control, that He is sovereign that He is faithful and He is good! God wastes nothing and I came to the realisation that God would not ask me to endure a difficult situation for no reason – He is a good father! So I have come to the place where I trust Him! It may not make sense to me, but my mind is so small compared to God! I want to be someone who stands firm even when my flesh is weak.
So that’s where I am; daily choosing to surrender control, to choose to trust, to choose to lay my anxiety’s and fears down and let His peace and love fill me. Whatever that looks like I am His and He is mine and really what else matters. I wouldn’t trade that for anything else. Even when I feel like my heart is breaking as I miss my family and friend’s and their support so much, even when I feel that I don’t have the answers, that I feel lonely or confused I am never alone! He is with me and He will protect Grace and make sure we have all we need. He will meet all our needs and give us a peace beyond understanding.
So whatever this next year looks like, whether God keeps us here or whether He asks us to follow him elsewhere I do know that we are in good hands and we are being transformed; it will be hard, it will be painful but it is worth it all. I want God to know He can trust me and to know I will trust Him whatever He asks of me.
So I rejoice in my brokenness as I know God will use it for greatness and that when He does I will know it’s all because of Him. I have learnt we shouldn’t feel ashamed for feeling broken but actually recognise it’s all part of the process of dying to self and recognising we are nothing without God.