The past two months have been two of the most difficult months of my life. As my time in Thailand comes to a close, it ends in a similar way that it began: with lots and lots of rain. I wish I could say the weather is a representation of my spiritual climate– that I am swimming in blessings, peace, grace, and love. Unfortunately, it is not and I feel like I am crawling through the desert on my belly searching for any glimpse of fertile land. I am in a season of drought, but still the Lord is good!
Let me give you a little glimpse into what my life has been like for the past couple months. As many of you may know, sleep is one of my favorite things. There is not much greater than a Sunday afternoon nap, am I right? However, the past two months my average sleep time has been around 3 to 5 hours a night, often times waking up just two hours after I finally doze off. As someone who usually needs 7 hours of sleep to function, I have been hurting.
I am also leaving Thailand in a couple of weeks. While I know and have peace that God is calling me out of Thailand, He has unfortunately not given me further clarity on my next steps. That has been a difficult road to walk, especially with so much of my heart still here.
On top of all of this, one of my best friends here in Thailand passed away. He was a man that was greatly respected and loved by everyone here at the café. He and I spent a lot of time together and had a very special relationship, even though most of the time we couldn’t communicate with each other beyond a smile and a laugh.
We then had back-to-back Parent Vision Trips, which was the trip that my Dad took to come visit me when I was on the World Race a couple years ago. I love these trips! It is fun to see how parents and Racers interact with each other, and how the love parents have for their children overflows on to everyone around them. However, these trips are also very tiring and have me on the go from 7 or 8 in the morning until midnight. While I usually handle this well, the added lack of sleep has made for some interesting days.
And lastly, my grandfather, who has been in an almost constant battle for his health the past year, was recently rushed to the ER with pneumonia and heart problems. Following a lot of prayer, he has been released from the hospital. However, the sickness has really affected his mind and he has struggled with remembering simple details about life, like who his grandchildren are or where he is.
On top of all this, there has been spiritual attack after spiritual attack. I have been in a constant battle with depression and my emotions that has nearly taken me to the point of giving in and giving up on everything around me.
While all of that is very overwhelming and exhausting, there is actually a silver lining in these storm clouds.
Through these trials, God has been constantly teaching and growing me. A sermon series from North Point Church helped bring me some revelation concerning this season.
The series is called “In the Meantime” and it addresses how Christians can handle situations that seem hopeless. In the series, Pastor Andy Stanley talks about when John the Baptist was in prison and sent his disciples to Jesus asking him if He truly was the Savior, about the Apostle Paul and the thorn in his side that tormented him continuously, and about Lazarus, who died while waiting on Jesus to come heal him.
Now these were all great men of the faith. Jesus says of John the Baptist that he is the greatest man who ever lived (Matt. 11:11). When the men came to meet Jesus to tell them that Lazarus was dying, they didn’t even need to use his name. All they needed to say was “…he whom you love is ill” (John 11:3). Paul is known for writing and influencing the writing of most of the new testament and has done more to advance the gospel then possibly any other man. Despite their faith, God still allowed these men to suffer terrible things so that they may be perfected.
I have clung to their testimonies as well as several verses in this trying time.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
“… for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
These verses, written by Paul and by James the brother of Jesus, show me that I may be going through hard times, but if I continue to persevere and continue to trust in God in the midst of my struggle, then I will learn lessons and be perfected for the glory of the One who made me!
Through these hard times, I have learned perseverance. I have also learned that even the people closest to Jesus suffered great hardships. I have learned that whether God answers prayers “no” or “yes” is not a reflection of Him loving me more or less.
And lastly, I have learned and clung to this promise:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”