For Such a Time as This

This last week, I attended a banquet for Avant Ministries, celebrating 125 years. I love missions and hearing about how God is at work around the world (especially good as I often can get too focused in on KCK). The main speaker shared from Esther and the idea of ‘for such a time as this’–how we can see life events/circumstances as isolated events, perhaps even coincidences, but how God is orchestrating events and using the circumstances for His glory.

This got me thinking. The past summer, I had the opportunity to share my testimony with the youth groups that came to help with day camp. Each time I shared, I got to trace how God used seemingly random, often not super fun, events in my life to help bring me to Bridge of Hope and prepare my heart for ministry today. He used my injuries, my friend’s death, my subsequent health problems, my camp experience. All of these seemingly disconnected events He used and I can now see how they brought me to the place where I am today.

This is such a humbling and encouraging thought! One of my favorite things about our Savior is that He is a Redeemer and He redeems EVERYTHING! No life experience is wasted, He redeems it all for His glory.

But this also got me thinking. Not only did He use those past experiences, He’s going to use my current ones as well! Whatever you and I are going through now is not for naught. How exciting is that?!? One day, we can look back and say, ‘maybe such and such happened for just a time as this!’

Anyway, I found all this immensely encouraging and exciting so I wanted to share with you, and encourage you, if you haven’t in a while, to take some time to reflect and see how God has used parts of your past for such times as these. He’s always at work, all over the world, but also in our own lives, in more ways than we realize. What an awesome God we serve!

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The God Who Hears My Prayers

The world is a big, big place with lots of people doing lots of things. Amidst all that is going on in the world, it is very incredible to me that the God of the universe, the God of all time, the God over everything would actually be in tune with my little life. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can forget how involved and acutely aware He is of my life and my little struggles.

In case you are like me, I wanted to share how He has answered some of my prayers over the last couple months in hopes that it can be an encouragement to you as well. Also, in an effort to make more of a practice of recognizing His involvement in my life. My sister recently reminded me that God is always active in our lives, but we just frequently don’t take note of it, or attribute it to something else.

So, without further ado, here are some ways God has been active in my life:

 

For a while now, I’ve been praying about opportunities to grow in the area of leadership. I truly enjoy the act of building/training people up so that they can go out and do but also have no idea how to do that as well as a whole slew of semi-related issues. I’ve been very aware of my need to grow in this area, but feeling overwhelmed and unsure of just how to address this problem. I’ve been feeling a little stuck–knowing I need to grow and change but not knowing the first steps to take. Enter one of my friends from BoH, who also is a part of my small group. Let’s call her Lacey. One day, when we were meeting for small group, she mentions that she nominated me for this leadership class she had been a part of for the last year and I should expect an email from them in the upcoming months. Just like that. Bam. Sure enough, a couple of months later, I received an email, I officially applied for the program and now I’m several months in! This class has helped hold me accountable for the changes I’ve needed to take, provide some training for me, provide networking–meeting people who work in all professions in Wyandotte County, and alongside that, new relationships. That was another prayer I had–I was realizing that I was developing a very limited circle of people in my life and wanted to broaden my circles of influence. And viola! Here are all these lovely people from different professions, walks of life, and backgrounds. And they are stuck with me for a whole year!  It’s been so encouraging seeing how God has answered so many prayers (some that weren’t even fully realized yet) through this one class.

 

And that whole ‘wanting to grow my circle’ thing? God has kept doing that. This new year, I was invited to join the board of the Chinese Club of Greater Kansas City (Fb plug & website) along with a friend ‘Libby’. This alone is a joy to my soul as the beauty of learning about other cultures is something my parents have instilled in me since childhood. Already, in a couple short months, I’ve been able to have such interesting conversations with people I never would have come across otherwise. I am so excited by the new relationships I get to develop and everything I get to learn. After celebrating the Chinese New Year, my friend and I just kept repeating what a gift this experience is.

But being a part of the board is even more important and sweeter to my soul than all of that. As many of you know, one of my dear childhood friends, Elizabeth, was taken to be with Jesus before her 19th birthday after a several-year fight with cancer. This dramatically changed my life and God continues to work in and through it. Libby (who is on the board with me) and I have continued to try to keep connected with her family but especially recently had been praying for opportunities to strengthen and deepen that relationship. Fast forward a couple months after Libby and I initially talked about our desire to be more intentional with that relationship and we get a Facebook message from Elizabeth’s older sister who was just made the president of the board and wanted us to be a part of it.

Now, friends, I can be dense at times. And when I first saw that message, I thought ‘that sounds really awesome, but it doesn’t have anything to do with where my focus is at now, so in an interest of decluttering/keeping my focus, I can easily say no.’ Thankfully, it took only a couple minutes later when I realized that, hello!, this was actually a direct answer to prayer! Then, I was promptly giddy for the rest of the evening.

 

Okay, one last story, then I’ll let you go.

Another area I’ve been wanting to grow in is counseling. Because I work in an office at the church, at any given time someone may come in and pour out their soul. There are also many other circumstances in my job where someone may come to me for advice. Being a not-entirely terrible person, my hope is that I can say something that will encourage and uplift them and not be a hindrance to them. I’ve read a book or two, but I learn most by hands-on activities, the more engaged the better!

So, last May, I was at my friend’s bridal shower. Her soon-to-be mother-in-law (incidentally, also the mother of a friend) was just catching up with me (I had randomly stayed at her house for a wedding three years prior) and for some reason mentioned a biblical counseling conference she had attended a couple months prior. My ears instantly perked up and I begged for more information. Over the course of the next nine months, she checked in with me and did all she could to help me be able to attend the conference this year. Friends, I just returned from this conference a couple days ago. She got me hooked up with her church, helped me find people to share a hotel room with there, let me stay at her place before returning to KC–the whole shebang. I’m still processing through all the information and could definitely use prayer for wisdom in how to use the information in my day-to-day life, but it was so good!

I’ve even got another way God answered a prayer through that, but this is getting long, so I think I’ll save that for another post.

Mostly, friends–we serve a good and faithful God who is more aware of our needs than we are and He faithfully meets those needs, sometimes in very unexpected ways, but He is so faithful. I don’t often see it as clearly as I do now, so hopefully this post will serve as a reminder for me in the future, when I’m in that waiting stage and He doesn’t seem to be answering. He is faithful. He is good. He is great and greatly to be praised.

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The Good, the Bad, the Broken

two-boxesI like order. I don’t care for the ‘grey’ area in life, and do my best to have everything fit into nice, neat, little boxes–a place for everything, and everything in its place. (Unless, of course, you are talking about actual, physical items, then they can be strewn about and as long as there is a general sense of order, it won’t bother me in the slightest. Yes, I’m a gem.)

Since coming to Bridge of Hope, I’ve learned a lot, including preconceptions I had or ways my mind works that hadn’t been put to the test before. A major one I’m still working through is my desire to place people in one of two boxes: the good box or the bad box. I had no idea I did this, it was so innate. But I do. When I first meet someone, and as I get to know them, I begin sorting them through some mental list I have (don’t ask me what the list is, I’m still not entirely sure) and decide whether that person belongs in the ‘good’ box or the ‘bad’ box. Once they are there, they are there to stay. No need to empty the box of its contents and re-sort through everything, re-evaluating everything. That is far too tiresome and I cannot afford to be questioning my innate senses that much–that would lead to chaos, and chaos is not good.

This sorting process has, generally, served me well in life. It allows me to know who I can feel safe around, when I can ‘let my guard down,’ who I can count on or trust as well as who I’ll be friendly with but keep at a reasonable distance, who I will make sure to not be alone with, et cetera. For most of my life, this sorting process has mainly served as a warning flag system, which is a good thing, I think, to ensure I don’t enter into unreasonably unsafe situations.

Since coming to Bridge of Hope, however, this sorting system has not worked quite so well. I got very confused when someone I had decided was ‘a good person’ did something I would put in the ‘bad’ category, and then when I had properly situated them in that box, they did something ‘good’ again. It left me very confused and never knowing how to act around anyone. I blogged about my first experience with this here (tl;dr — I had started building a relationship with a woman in our transitional house and then she went back out on the streets). I didn’t realize what was really going on then, and this would happen several more times. I struggled when people I had decided belonged in the ‘bad’ box because of ways they’d hurt other church members were welcomed back. How could I be excited to see them when I knew they caused pain for someone I care about? They belonged in the ‘bad’ box, and I must treat them as such.

The inner turmoil had begun. I could feel my brain reeling as the person I see in front of me is going from one box to the other–back and forth, back and forth, with the speed only present in those movie clips of some nightmare where everything moves at warp speed to a shaky camera and a clown laughs in the background. Okay, I may be exaggerating slightly, but hopefully you get the picture.

At some point, the thought occurred to me that there was a simple solution to my problem. I simply needed to introduce a third box to my sorting system, one that will replace the other two: the ‘broken’ box. broken-box

See, even though I proclaim to be a Christian and acknowledge that we are all sinners, and that Christ is the sanctifier and we will all be sinners till He returns, my life very frequently does not reflect that.

My faith teaches that there are not ‘good’ people and ‘bad’ people — you don’t become good by doing lots of charitable deeds and being nice to your neighbors. We’re all broken people. Yes, sometimes it’s more visible in one person than another, but we’re all broken.

Those that know Christ and are being sanctified won’t consistently stay in the ‘good’ box–they are still sinners and still broken. That means they will still let me down, hurt others, and do other things that would normally place people in the ‘bad’ box.

Conversely, those that don’t know Christ and are maybe living lives that I would tend to put in the ‘bad’ box are still made in God’s image. Because of that, they are capable of doing acts that would, from time to time, place them in the ‘good’ box. Also, at literally any moment, they can recognize their need for a Savior and begin the process of sanctification, but that just leads to the scenario of the above paragraph.

Basically, people are broken, images of God. So they will never fit either box perfectly. That’s why we throw those two boxes away. Instead, each person is an individual, made in God’s image, gifted with free will, and born with a sinful nature (that left on its own, will win every time, Romans 7, anyone).

Now, it’s still important to use some discernment, to not put yourself in unnecessary dangerous situations, but over the last couple years, I’ve been working to re-train my brain from putting people into the two boxes. It hasn’t been easy and is still a work in progress. I still find myself being surprised on occasion by someone’s behavior, when it doesn’t match with the box, but I am quicker to realize what is going on and it doesn’t shake up my world. Instead, I remind myself that we are all people, made in God’s image, but desperately broken and in need of a Savior and deserving of much grace and mercy.

I’m still working through it, so this is not the most eloquent blog post out there. But this issue has come up in conversation a few times lately, so I decided I wanted to share my struggle, in case you also tend to place people in one of two boxes. Friends, the ‘broken’ box is the way to go.

 

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When You Realize A Parable Is About You

Me with one of the girls I got to know this summer

Me with one of the girls I got to know this summer (nothing to do w/ the story, I just like it)

I will not be stressed, I will not be stressed, I will not be stressed. — If only that’s how it worked, right?

Today is a week since our last day of day camp. I still miss those kids a ton and am processing through the last couple of months and all that went on, but I wanted to share a little bit from the start of day camp.

Leading up to the beginning of day camp, my stress level and anxiety was definitely increasing. I was excited for it, but slightly overwhelmed by all the things beyond my control. As the coordinator, I wanted it to be as smooth and organized as possible, but all sorts of hypothetical situations kept popping up in my head–most of which I could not control.

Last summer, while I absolutely loved having day camps, I felt like I was more stressed than I needed to be and ran myself a bit ragged. This year, I had determined, would be different. Yes, I’d be tired no matter what, but I could delegate responsibilities and not be all over the place all the time. But most importantly, I would not be stressed. I would be relaxed, able to go with the flow and calmly deal with whatever unforeseen situations arose.  Well okay, this was the dream. Mostly I was terrified I’d be a stressed-out mess that no one would want to be near.

In preparation for the day camps, in hopes to ward off the worst, I was doing lots of praying and self-talk (and explaining my thought process to practically everyone I talked to, in hopes that it would help it sink in). My plan: 1)Do everything that I can beforehand to avoid mistakes (one reason I was excited for day camp, I could then move to reacting to issues instead of trying to preemptively combat them)–I was desperately trying to find the balance of being prepared and responsible but recognizing there was only so much I could do. 2)Accept that things to go wrong. I had determined that part of my stress was that I wanted everything to be perfect for the incoming groups. And while that’s all fine and good, again I can’t control everything. The line I rehearsed over and over was that ‘ministry is messy.’ Maybe when things go wrong, it could be a learning opportunity for the youth that were serving to see that ministry isn’t fields of lilies, but that things go wrong, people don’t act like they should, whatever–ministry is messy. I told myself that instead of bending over backwards trying to avoid that over which I had no control, I could embrace the situation and use it as a learning opportunity for the groups–yup, this situation kinda sucks, but that’s how it goes sometimes. Welcome to ministry! 3) Pray like crazy and get others to pray.

That, in essence, was my plan. It was going fairly well, I decided, right up to the afternoon the first group was arriving. You see, in an effort to make the first day of camp less crazy and to have everyone on the same page, I had scheduled a two hour training session for my Bridge of Hope volunteers. This time was to be used briefly going over some basic mental health training (how to deal with kids that have ADHD, etc, nicely put together by a woman at the church), training on how we would discipline, going over the schedule and responsibilities and that was about it! We had worksheets, plans for people to break into groups to brainstorm ideas, the whole shebang. While I was nervous about this, I’ll admit I was also slightly proud of it. But when the time came, no one was there. Well, excuse me, two people were there. Another two came about an hour late. One came about half an hour late. One left an hour or so early. I think there were roughly 20 people on my roster. I knew several couldn’t make it, and thought I had kept low expectations, but apparently not enough.

I was almost in tears when it was over. This was one of my main plans for reducing stress–everyone (or most people) would be on the same page. So, when all the craziness that is day 1 took place, at least everyone would know what they were doing. Now, on top of my anxiety about the day camp, I had to figure out how I was going to explain to the volunteers what their job was, how to discipline kids–heck, they didn’t even know what time I wanted them to arrive! I was a mite frustrated and disappointed. I tried to keep a good perspective, but I was a bit deflated.

Fast forward to that Monday, the first day of camp. I already had gone over everything with the youth group that was leading the camp, they knew what they were doing, now just to get my volunteers on track. Some of them showed up early and I was able to direct them properly and get them ready to go. But time was going by, and some of the people I was counting on were no where to be seen. This is why I wanted to have the training! Then I would know who would be here, and they would know what time! I thought to myself. As time went on and several people failed to show up, (let the record show, several people also did show up and did an awesome job!!!) my stress was rising as was my indignation. There were multiple times I had to step into the office and take some deep breathes. Being in the indignant, defeatist mood that I was, I had also determined that by how this day was going, it must mean that I’d be super stressed the rest of the summer. Practically before it began, I had come to the conclusion that it was over.

Thankfully, at this point, God intervened. (I should note, I don’t believe I was actually fuming outwardly all day or snapping at people in particular, but inwardly, my attitude was not pretty)  I can’t remember if it was that evening, or the next morning, but at one point a parable hit me smack in the face. This whole time, I had been praying, because I recognized me on my own was not going well and I am happy to report, God hears our prayers. Anyway, He brought to mind the parable of the unforgiving servant. I’ve included it below.

Matthew 18:21-35 (ESV): 21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.[a] 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.[b] 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant[c] fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,[d] and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,[e] until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Now, I’ll be honest. My prideful self has never really identified with that unforgiving servant, because obviously he’s a pretty selfish, terrible guy, and obviously, I’m not anywhere as bad as him. But what kept running through my head was this: I’m just like that unforgiving servant! God has forgiven my many, many trespasses, has been incredibly patient and merciful with me, and how to I repay that? By being frustrated and annoyed when people don’t act the way I want them to. He is endlessly patient with me, so I should be endlessly patient with others.

Some of those people who signed up to volunteer never ever showed up. I don’t know most of their reasons, if they had a ‘good excuse’ or not. But you know what? To an extent, it doesn’t really matter. If they signed up then decided ‘Psh, I’m not feeling it’ and decided to not contact me but instead lay around at home, then that’s simply where they are at. Wasting time and energy being frustrated that they aren’t where I want them to be won’t help anyone. I had to let go of my perfect dream world and accept the current one I was living. No, it’s often not pretty. And no, it rarely goes smoothly. But God is endlessly patient with me, so I can be endlessly patient with others.

That next day, I arrived at church a whole new person. The anger and resentment was gone, compassion had replaced it. I was ready to deal with whatever the current situation was instead of constantly wishing it was my ideal scenario. I wasn’t frustrated (or nearly as much) with those that didn’t volunteer. They had their reasons, whether I would deem them good ones or not, and the situation simply was. Additionally, I had several people who had led groups previous years comment to me how impressed they were with how many Bridge of Hope volunteers there were and how well they were involved in the camp. Because I was so stuck on my dream scenario and was frustrated that people weren’t acting according to that plan, I had completely missed the incredible growth that was taking place and wasn’t celebrating all God had and was doing. Yikes.

I’m happy to report that while I was stressed at times during day camp, it was considerably less than the previous year. I’m pretty sure anyone who worked with me both summers can attest to that. God met me where I was at, was so very patient with me and my failings, and answered my prayers time and time again.

(I should again note that for every person that failed to show up, I had dedicated workers who devoted huge portions of their summer/free time to serving at the camp and really stepped up in amazing ways. That is incredibly humbling to see and exciting to witness.)

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Reflections (Part 2)

This past month marks three years at Bridge of Hope, and what an eventful three years it has been! In the first part of ‘reflections,’ I shared about how God has graciously brought camp back into my life through Bridge of Hope’s summer day camps.

For this second part, I thoroughly intended to write about my initial desire to bring hope to the hopeless and train up others to do the same, and how God has begun to again meet that desire through small groups and discipleship. Then, I remembered I essentially addressed that in my latest newsletter. I am still just am so excited about, I forget that I’ve written on it already.

I have a few other things I want to share with you, but need some more time to fully develop my thoughts first. So I figured I’d just let you know I hadn’t forgotten that when there’s a part one, there should be at least a second part and use this opportunity for a shameless plug to check out my newsletter that is already sharing the information. In case you missed it, here it is again.

Also, day camp is starting this next Monday. So, if you think of it, please be in prayer: for the kids attending, that they might know God and build a relationship with Him; for the groups coming in to lead each week, that they will be used by God and that their faith will be made stronger in the process; for the Bridge of Hope volunteers, that they might have an opportunity to pour into these kids’ lives and build relationships with them and also draw closer to God as energy draws low, etc, and a lot for me–I tend to stress about things over which I have no control, and stress about things over which I do have control, and six weeks (plus a week of field trips) is a lot, while still doing normal work and I have a friend moving in with me during that time, and a sleep test, and well, just a lot. Please pray Isaiah 26:3 over me, that I may keep my mind fixed on God and that He may give me perfect peace because I trust in Him, that I will relinquish control and allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through me. And every other prayer that would seem to go along with the day camp theme.

Thanks so much!

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Three years (Reflections: part one)

This past week marked three years since I started working at Bridge of Hope full-time.

Since installing Timehop on my phone some time this past year, I have been engaged in a period of reflection. What has stood out to me the most was seeing how God worked through various decisions I made and life experiences I had and how those now affect where I am today. While I don’t know how all of the pieces fit together yet, some sections of the puzzle are becoming more clear. So, I thought in honor of the past three years, I’d take a moment to share some of these reflections with you.

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My cabin one week at CUMCITO

The first year at Bridge of Hope was mostly spent learning–trying out different areas of ministry apart from my set daily work activities and making the church and the city
my home. The second year involved me setting more roots down in the city and in ministries, beginning to dream and set goals for growth. This third year was a continuation of both, but very sweetly included some of those dreams and goals being actualized. For the first one, let me back track several years. In high school, I volunteered at a Christian camp for inner-city kids called Camp C.U.M.C.I.T.O. Those kids stole my heart and it was there that I first considered urban ministry for my future. The summers in high school I only volunteered a few weeks at a time, but after a year of college I was allowed to join their summer staff. Because they could only offer a stipend, my goal was to go to a cheaper college so I could relatively afford to work at the camp in the summers. And, that is how I ended up going to Truman State. (All the crazy connections I’ve made from my time there I won’t get to at this time) However, upon attending college, I never volunteered even one more week at Camp C.U.M.C.I.T.O. My health got in the way. This was always hard for me, because camp was a good thing and I struggled to understand why God would take it away, why He would give me a passion and then allow me to get sick. Eventually I came to terms with it and went on with my life, though every summer the thought of working even one week at the camp seemed so alluring.

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38987_441965378899_1339206_n Some kiddos from CUMCITO

Well, with this last summer, and even more this upcoming summer, I am seeing just one way how God has met that desire in my heart. Bridge of Hope is now doing day camps! Different youth groups will come and lead a week of camp, and I play the role of facilitator and part-time director/disciplinarian. At one point last summer, as I was running from one part of the church to another, probably incredibly stressed out but also extremely happy, it occurred to me, ‘I’m doing it! I’m working at camp again!’ Sure, I’m not a cabin leader, I don’t always work directly with the kids, but I’m helping organize it all so that they can come. I have relied heavily on my experience from Camp C.U.M.C.I.T.O. While a lot of the details are different, some of the same principles apply. My experience at the camp definitely help prepare me for the day camps at the church.

Some kids from day camp this past summer

Some kids from day camp this past summer

Even before I volunteered at Camp C.U.M.C.I.T.O., camp has been a part of my life. I attended and volunteered at another camp in Nebraska starting at age 10. I absolutely love just about everything about camp. And while this is not exactly how I had originally imagined it, it’s a privilege and honor to be able to be a part of enabling 50-60 kids to attend day camp and learn about Jesus six weeks of the summer. I also treasure the ability to interact with the youth groups that come each summer. I don’t believe I’ve made any secret of the fact that the weeks youth groups are at the church are my favorite weeks. While I don’t work one-on-one with the little kids, I do have an opportunity to interact on some scale with both them and the older youth who are volunteering. I love it. I am so grateful that God has brought camp back into my life.

(I have a few more reflections to share, but I think I’ll just do another post a bit later)

 

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‘Take Heart; I Have Overcome the World’

Sometimes, I wish I was a rock or an island. Because, as Simon & Garfunkel beautifully sing it, ‘a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries.’

Especially since coming to Bridge of Hope, I frequently feel almost overwhelmed with the burden placed on my heart. There is so much suffering, hurt, and pain all around me and I am unable to fix any of it.

There are many within Bridge of Hope who are currently going through severe trials, and your heart cannot help but ache for them. As an elder in the church said today, when a part of the body is in pain, the whole body hurts. We are a hurting people, longing for healing and restoration.

In addition, on Friday, the burden for the kids in this area was renewed. As I was opening the gate at the church to go in for work, I heard some yelling by the houses nearby. I looked over and am fairly certain I overheard a caretaker call a little girl, who I walked home from day camp, ‘a little s***’ and ‘a little whore.’ I wept.

Even if my own cares are light, the weight of what others are going through can be crushing.

This has been a struggle of mine–figuring out how to handle these deep emotions, this ache, this burden, but not let it overwhelm me and become defeated.

And Jesus’ words rang in my ears, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John16:33b, ESV)

This is the promise I need. When the laborers are few. When the darkness is great. When it seems like Satan is winning. When there is so much need, and I am so incapable of meeting it.

God is gracious, and provides innumerable promises to us. That He will never leave us nor forsake us, that all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, that He stores our tears in a bottle and counts our tossings. (Deut 31:8; Romans 8:28; Psalm 56:8) Depending on the circumstance, some are held dearer than others. Right now, I am thankful for John 16:33. The restoration is coming, the victory is already won. The verse begins by Jesus saying, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.” All of this is part of his last words with his disciples before he is arrested and crucified. A time when his disciples would certainly be in turmoil, deep mourning, and feel utterly alone. After his resurrection and ascension–could the task have felt any more overwhelming?

Throughout the Bible, there are promises of trials and tribulations, like that included in John 16:33. It is assumed. But with practically all (if not all, I haven’t done an exhaustive search) assurances of suffering, there is a promise of the ultimate restoration. Consider Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

I am deeply grateful for the wealth of comfort and examples set forth in the Bible when it comes to suffering, especially that we are encouraged to cry out to Him, and that He knows our sorrows. I am reminded of Isaiah 53:3-5, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces. He was despised and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

This grief and weight I bear, how much more does God bear it? For His love is fair greater (and untainted) than mine.

While I cannot take away others’ sorrow or ease their pain. I can’t make all the darkness leave. I can’t say why God is allowing those I love dearly to go through these trials. I can’t tell them how it will end. But I know my God hears them, and knows their sorrows intimately. He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows! I know He welcomes our cries to Him, and I know He is Good. And I know that this present life is nothing in comparison to the joy of all eternity in His presence. I am able to take heart, for He has overcome the world.

“Man of Sorrows!” what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim;
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!  — Hallelujah! What a Savior by Phillip B. Bliss
*This post was written as part of me processing my current emotions, etc. I frequently will journal or type out these sorts of things, in an effort to organize my thoughts and adopt a proper mindset toward God. Instead of deleting this post or leaving it as draft, as I have with others. I decided to post it. The purpose of this blog was to give you an extra insight into the ministry. A heavy, burdened heart is a frequent bi-product of it. This is me working through some of the pain.
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