Encouraged to Endure

I sit down at my computer to share my heart with you and turn on some worship music.  Just as the first notes of the music begin to play, the call to prayer begins near my home and it’s the first time my ears have heard these two very different heart songs simultaneously.  It’s a startling clashing of sounds, yet I do not turn my music off.  In fact, I just sit here and listen.  I observe the differences.  As the worship of Light plays, there is a stark contrast to the call of darkness that attempts to steal the stage.  The two distinctly different melodies fight for my attention, similar to the fight that I am faced with everyday.  Will I choose joy or depression when troubles are never ending.  Will I choose to walk in Light or to hide in darkness.  Will I choose to hold fast to the Hope which anchors my soul, or choose to be tossed violently by the fallen world. Will I choose to trust the Sovereign God or cower in fear as I am prompted to share the message of Hope, which most living here do not believe.  Will I choose to have faith, or choose to entertain anxiety which is the fuel for insecurity and unsteadiness.

Will I choose to endure? Some days, it’s just hard…

The call to prayer is louder in volume than my music, but the Truth found in the worship music floods my mind with scripture and I hear Him whisper Life-giving Truth to my weary heart. The magnificent power found in His whispers proves more powerful than the loud man-made call to prayer.  The pain and struggles of this world seem overwhelming, but compared to God, they are not. I fight to focus on Truth and the more I do, the more I do not hear the ugliness of this world or allow the lies of the enemy to cause my gaze to wander. As I listen intently for Him in all things, I find Him. Abiding in Christ is abiding in peace. Despite the chaotic nature of life, there is a quiet stillness found while focused on Him. This steadiness….this calm peace….this inner self that is fine tuned to hear and see God….this is what sobers my mind and allows me to choose Jesus above all else. This is what helps me continue to worship and walk in Light while living in darkness that tries to drown out the voice of my Savior.

These two songs that played loudly were a tangible picture of the worlds we live in as followers of Jesus.  We live in a fallen world that is full of restlessness, depression, hopelessness, and emptiness.  But we belong to the Kingdom of Light, where walking in peace, joy, hope, and contentment are possible.  We belong to this Kingdom and can experience fullness of joy right now!  We have been rescued….let’s live like we believe it! But what happens when we live as a Light-bearer in the middle of circumstances where darkness clashes with all that we are and all that we do and all that we know?  We get alone with God.  We seek Him in the morning and focus our affections on Him.  We preach Truth to ourselves over and over until we feel new and strong.  We take captive every thought that tries to distract us from walking in Light.

this photograph has not been edited! This is straight from the camera!

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” ~2 Corinthians 10:5

“In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart].” ~Psalm 5:3, AMP

“I anticipated the dawning of the morning and cried [in childlike prayer]; I hoped in Your word.” Psalm 119:147, AMP

“Cause me to hear Your loving-kindness in the morning, for on You do I lean and in You do I trust. Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my inner self to You.” ~Psalm 143:8

It was just last week that I was abruptly faced with such a clashing of worlds.  We had just walked out of a coffee shop and were on our way to language class.  I took a sip of my vanilla latte and looked up.  What I saw knocked the wind out of me. A man took his hand and violently slapped his girlfriend or wife across the face.  I froze out of shock.  I have never seen a man hit a woman like that before.  He then pushed her away from him and stood above her, yelling at her with his face inches from hers.  She sat down and stared at him with a fearful and hopeless expression in her eyes.  My heart shattered into a million pieces.  She is treasure, but she doesn’t know it.  What I watched is her existence.  This is normal for her.  She does not know hope.

As we stood there and watched, we were shocked to see that no one around them seemed to even think twice about how this man of rage was treating this woman.  We asked some fellow workers later about what we saw and they said that this kind of violence is common here and it’s actually wise that my husband didn’t try to stop it.  They said this woman is seen as this man’s property in this culture and that he is free to do with her as he pleases.  They said that if my husband had tried to do something, he could have been attacked.

What do I do with this? How do I process this?

We kept walking and eventually sat down in language class.  Almost instantly, I sighed a heavy sigh as I tried to motivate myself to persevere through the next 3 hours of information that seems confusing and almost impossible to learn.  And then her face flashed in my mind.  The woman who was slapped…. I felt helpless as I pondered how many millions of women are treated poorly in the Muslim world.  As I sat there and felt anxiety and hopelessness for their situation, my thoughts were redirected by the Spirit to the God Who is Able.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” ~Ephesians 3:20

The woman who was slapped is why I am here.  She is why we have uprooted our family and moved to a foreign land.  She is why I struggle with language learning.  She is why I endure strange food and not having a dryer for my clothes.  She is why the introvert in me puts aside being uncomfortable and attempts to talk to strangers.  She is why we have given up the elementary school we loved that our children would have attended.  She is why I give up seeing my best friends.  She is why we give up seeing family.

The hope of her salvation is why I endure

Like starvation in Africa, the treatment of women in such a large population may never change.  But that does not mean that this is a hopeless situation. By His power and strength I will learn language and tell them of the hope found in Jesus.  Perhaps their earthly circumstances will never improve and may even worsen, but there is hope for a future with Christ that will not include any abuse, rejection, abandonment, or fear!

Tonight as I laid in bed with my youngest child and she twirled my hair as she drifted off to sleep, I heard the unthinkable.  I heard a man yelling viciously in another language and I heard the sobs of a woman.  I heard things being thrown and time seemed to stand still as my mind tried to grapple with what I was hearing.  I quietly got out of bed and stood at the window in an attempt to hear where the commotion was coming from.  I bent down and put my ear to the cold, hard floor and heard the fighting loud and clear.  In the dark of night, I laid on the floor and begged God for this family.  I laid there and sobbed and prayed and asked that He would allow our paths to cross so we could tell them about Jesus. Even now while I am typing, the tears are falling and my heart is hurting. Please join me in praying for these women!  I ask that you pray that we will learn language quickly! I also ask that you will pray that as we experience culture clashes – some of which are heart wrenching like these – that we will continue to look to the Unseen for all peace and encouragement! He is able to do more than we can ask or imagine!

“[We pray] that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, [to exercise] every kind of endurance and patience (perseverance and forbearance) with joy,Giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified and made us fit to share the portion which is the inheritance of the saints (God’s holy people) in the Light. [The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” ~Colossians 1:11-13, AMP

{Pray that women will listen to our message and be drawn to Hope. Pray that men will be saved and wives will be cherished! God is able!}