I have many challenges, just as most people have. And when I start to dwell on those hard things, and imagine how it could get worse, Jesus usually reminds me of Bible characters and people in history who had it tougher than I have it... Jesus Himself, the Apostle Paul, Esther, Corrie ten Boom, Jim and Elisabeth Elliot.
These perspectives help, but what gets down to where I really live is reading about or meeting someone who is living it right now... someone who is walking with Christ right now in the midst of more difficult circumstances than I have ever experienced.
Meet my virtual friend Sheri. She and her family are missionaries to Brazil. I have yet to meet Sheri in person, but by testimony of those who know her, she is a true Christian inspiration. Here's something I saw in her comments to someone on Facebook recently: "I just want to participate with God and what He's doing 100%!"
Sheri has gone through some unspeakable horrors as well as some very rough living conditions on the mission field, living in the jungle, seeking to be a godly wife and mother through it all. Most women who have been through something like that on the mission field would have come back home feeling that they have "paid their dues," and that "now it is time to relax." Not Sheri. She couldn't wait to get back to Brazil after their first term.
As I write this, they are sitting in their new home in Lages, Brazil, a home not as primitive as their jungle home, yet primitive by North American standards. When they set up housekeeping, they found out the water had been cut off. It's winter in Brazil, and they had no heat in the house for several days.
They are roughing it without any furniture except a small kitchen table, a small 4-burner stove to cook with and air mattresses to sleep on for now, as they wait for their container of household things to arrive and clear customs. Literally all Sheri has in her kitchen is a sink. Homes there do not come with refrigerator, stove, cabinets, etc. They lived like this for many weeks--indefinitely--not knowing when the container would arrive. (Thank God it finally arrived last Friday!)
How many would have quit and said, "OK, now I want to go home!"?
Yet Sheri is thankful. She is happy. You can see the love of Christ radiating on her face in every picture of her.
I am humbled in the midst of my own complaining spirit. There are so many verses the proclaim how good God is!
For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. Hebrews 6:10
Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment. Job 34:12
Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! Psalm 31:19
Do I beat myself up for complaining? Sometimes. But when I do, I am really just jumping from one ditch into another. I want to remember that is not the answer. I want to be on the balanced highway in the middle. Just resting in Him and walking with Him. Yielding every area of my life as He reveals it, and not worrying about the areas He has yet to show me. He will reveal them in His time. And I pray that I will always remain soft to His promptings to yield.
Life with God is good!
(Click here for Sheri's latest blog entry: Saturday and a Pillow.)