Consider it all JOY…
“Consider it all JOY, my brethren, when you encounter various trails, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
The Scriptures come alive in daily life here in Honduras. I just told you several posts ago that our lives are ‘simple.’ By that, I mean unassuming, modest, ordinary, basic. By that, I did not mean that our lives are without trial. It is precisely the simplicity that I described that allows me the mental, spiritual and emotional bandwidth to deal with the daily trials that present themselves.
Returning to La Moskitia was expected to be fairly benign. We have an established apartment, garden, friends, stores to shop in and so on. And yet, so much changed while we were gone. There has been a huge crackdown on drug trafficking. This trickles down, you see, to the poorest person. If there is no money flowing through the region, jobs disappear, food becomes scarce, folks become desperate. An interesting twist on the trickle-down effect. Illegal activity of one class providing for basic needs of the poorest. And all the while, that very illegality being driven by the drug desires of my own country.
We received a message the day before we were to return that our apartment had been broken into. There were odd things missing: bowls, pots, pans, coffee mugs with Scripture on them, canned food, mayonnaise, pancake mix, hair clippers and so on. There were odd things remaining: desktop computer, Wii, modem, and so on. It was speculated by many that it was a child who came in and took only a bit, not wanting to offend.
We were grateful and able to pray for the person who possibly committed this act. We’ve always known that the people here do not view theft as a problem. They have the point of view “if it isn’t nailed down, it’s public property.” At some point, we assumed our property would be perceived as public.
And then we were robbed again, while we were here. This time a laptop. I’d like to say that this time I immediately began to pray for the perpetrator. I’d like to say I had nice thoughts about him/her. No. All I could think about were our kids and our safety. Our kids, however, were not phased by the event. I thought they would cry and want to all sleep in one room (that’s what I kind of wanted to do ) Our older two are without a doubt more spiritually prepared for facing the reality of sin than Alex or I were at their age. We’ve never pretended for their sake that humanity is ‘good’ … they know that people, including themselves, are given by God the opportunity to choose…
The next morning, we examined the situation, realized where the person came over our balcony, ordered bars for our windows and borrowed a watch dog. We have not slept much these last few nights. And yet, we must get back to work. There is a reason we are here. We have work to do; specific children to fight for, to plant seeds of Christ’s love into their lives.
Right now, I rest in the verse that my God causes all things to work together to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 God can work this discomfort of ours into something good for His Kingdom. How do I know that the person who entered my home will not show up on our door step next week and we can share Christ with him? How do I not know that someone else might have an opportunity to do so very soon? The possibilities of God’s plan are staggering.
I’m reminded of Jim Elliot, who gave his life along with others, to reach the barbaric Auca Indians. His widow, Elisabeth, went on to work with the Aucas and share the Gospel with many. She realized God’s grand plan… His long-term vision of which we have a teeny, tiny pin-prick of a glimpse.
I’m also reminded of an e-mail I received right after sharing the first break-in with a few folks. It told the story of a young man, Roberto, who broke into the home of my friend when her family lived in Guatemala. Roberto inhaled glue and broke into homes to meet his needs. One day, my friend’s Mom found Roberto on their floor vomiting blood. Roberto told them that they only stole enough to meet their needs, not to harm people… my friend called him a Guatemalan Robin Hood. My friend’s family helped Roberto in many ways, with medicine and ultimately, even finding a job. Today, he is a grown man with a college degree and a family of his own; God’s perspective on a situation that appears hopeless from human eyes.
When you are tempted to read this e-mail, shut down your computer and talk with your spouse about how absolutely crazy our family is, I ask you to pause. Christians are not to avoid trials and suffering. We are not to expect lives free of sorrow and difficulty.
Our personal trials may be a bit more vividly colored here; but they are no different than what people feel around the globe. We experience life and suffering similar, but not near as challenging as the people we live near and have grown to love. Actually, the people here have it much more difficult than we do… they don’t know what it feels like to have abundant water, electricity and food at all. Our family is considered wealthy here, even though we are volunteers on a missionary budget. We are fortunate, blessed with material things, even though from an American perspective we have little.
As we look at these temporary discomforts, we pray that the end of it all is true JOY; not contrived happiness based on situations or possessions. Perhaps, I should stop my whining and get to praising the God who protected our family.
True Joy. Consider it ALL joy, my brethren.
P.S. A friend of ours wrote today on another aspect of this verse played out in the US church. It is always amazing to me when God is working on similar things in the lives of people we know. Pure joy.