This week was hard.
But what good is real Christian life if you don’t endure hard times to be stretched and tested?
As many of you knew, I was very seriously sick this week. I didn’t think too much of it at first; I thought I just had really bad indigestion. But as the evening progressed into the first night, Saturday night, I was throwing up and making frequent trips to the bathroom all night. When Tuesday approached, feeling even weaker than a few days before, I finally agreed to go to the clinic. I had bloodwork done for a general blood count, and they asked me to give a urine and stool sample…which I was unable to bring myself to give.
As it turns out, my body has been battling a quite serious bacterial infection. I am currently still taking very heavy medication, which has intensified the nausea.
In the night, I toss and turn, and get up every twenty minutes to gag in my blue basin; believing that I was really going to toss my cookies once again. I lay there, not being able to sleep, and extremely uncomfortable from the heat and my raging fever. I lay there, with worship music on and crying, remembering my dad praying with me and rubbing my forehead as a sick child. Oh, how I longed to be that child again, being comforted by my strong, loving dad.
But I am here. And that’s okay.
This week was a challenge. God really searched my heart and tested me in whether I am leaning on my own strength, or looking to Him for strength. This week, that meant in every way possible; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I quickly remembered my last blog, in which I talked about in what situations I will trust in my God.
But I blindly forgot to mention the most vital: I choose to trust Him to be my strength.
Before I came to Africa, I was living in a bit of a dry time. I was a rollercoaster of many emotional and discouraged ups and downs. As I prepared for Africa, I was genuinely excited on embarking a new adventure. I was also looking forward to this dry season to be over. I had this great fantasy idea, not just in my mind but others influenced me as well, that I would undertake an intense, spiritual journey the moment I touch African soil. And now, as I have been here for just over a month, I found myself to be looking at the clock; waiting for a nice, quiet, perfect, spiritual, growth spurt. Actually, this is real life. So it’s probably time for me to throw that unrealistic picture out of my head.
Don’t get me wrong; I totally believe that I am learning and growing here; anywhere that I am, for that matter. And it’s a wonderful desire to want to grow in Christ. But I was flawed; I imagined a romanced, pre-rehearsed growth spurt.
This week has been stretching, an unveiling. I unwittingly grew this week, just realizing it while writing this blog. Growing isn’t something you plan. Sure, you can plan the steps to grow, but the growth itself cannot be self-made. That is solely from the Spirit of The Lord.
I independently ventured the twenty-minute to two hour taxi ride from my village to Sydney’s for the first time on Saturday. Sitting squished up against sweaty strangers, I listened to worship music and watched the lush, green trees, and beautiful sugar cane fields pass by.
As jungles continued to passed in a blur, I compared myself. I feel like I am a little, tiny shrub in a jungle. I know that I need the sun and water, and I plan to get those vitamins that make me grow. I compare myself to the big, beautiful, green trees that surround me, and I aspire to grow like them. I compare myself to other shrubs, and even the smaller, baby shrubs. And even though I plan to get so much sunlight and water intake to grow stronger, it isn’t I that decides. It’s the sun.
It’s The Son.
It’s He who decides when I will grow and how I will grow. It is He who is gives me the Living Water, who gives me The Light, who supplies what I need for survival. It is He who decides when I will see the some pieces fit together. It is He who makes it possible, even if I pathetically attempt to make it happen myself. How merciful my Father is to undeservedly reveal little bits of His glory in the midst of my lowly, human weaknesses. How glorious Abba is, that He would be my intimate strength for my everyday.
Thank you to everyone who prayed, and continues to pray, for Sydney’s health and my health. Thank you, Father, for being so good.
“For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” – James 1:3-4
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble, or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loves us.” – Romans 8:35-37
“The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” – Psalm 28:7