Near the beginning of February we attended a four day retreat for missionaries in Honduras. More than 300 other missionaries came together for a time of worship, various workshops and the preaching of the Word. It was a time to be together with friends we don’t see too often depending on where they live in Honduras, and a time to make new friends. It was a time to be refreshed. A time to allow God to speak to areas of our hearts. It was all free….the meals, accomodations…all we had to was get there. It’s a lot of work to organize, I can’t even imagine what all goes into pulling an event like that off to bring so many of us together under one roof, but as usual it was amazing. Some of the topics during the general sessions were offense, jealousy and envy and the difference between the latter two. There was a sermon called “Getting rid of the quit.”..on persevering…staying the course and not quitting.
“Getting rid of the quit” took me back in time to when we first came on the field. It was not easy in the beginning. Far from it. I recently read some journal entries from five plus years ago. I wanted to weep for the woman I was back then….for the woman who’s heart longed for home and ached with desperate loneliness and wanted nothing more than to pack her bags and load up her family and head back to Canada. Back to what was familiar. Family. Friends. Safety.
Yet deep inside I knew that the Lord wanted us to stay, to persevere through whatever trials we were facing. And there were a lot. New culture, new language. Safety concerns. Grocery shopping. Trying to balance family and ministry and keep our family first. I remember taking the brundt of one of our kid’s frustrations and anger at moving here. The daily tongue lashings from the said child…who was also going through grief, loss and challenges and changes and had given up so much for our sake. I remember the heartache and tears. At the same time we were dealing with major identity theft back in Canada and the tens of thousands of dollars in charges being racked up on “new” credit cards in Dale’s name. We were robbed twice. Our beloved dog was poisoned and died. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember feeling that the odds were against us. Stress was an understatement.
And yet, while Dale and I were going through one of the hardest times of our lives, we still had peace inside. We knew that the Lord was with us giving us inner strength. We didn’t really have friends here at the time so we had no where else to go but to Him with our struggles. Even though we were hurting and it was so hard, we knew he wanted us to hang on and not give up. We knew he wanted us to persevere and to trust him that it would be ok…that he would work things out eventually. We knew he didn’t want us to the do the easy thing and throw in the towel. He wanted us to be patient. His timing is not our timing. And things don’t always work out the way we think they will. But that is not always a bad thing. Also nowhere in His word does is say that living out what he has called us to do would be easy.
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be pateint in trouble, and keep on praying.
When we feel alone and that we have no one to talk to, we can trust Him with the deepest places and the deepest sorrows of of our hearts. He gets us. He understands and He cares.
We are never truly alone. He is always there.
It is important to remember that. He truly is a good God. He is so faithful. Even when things seem dark. Even when things seem hopeless. Dale and I have seen his faithfulness over and over again while on this journey.
Matthew 11:28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. “
1 Peter 5:7 Give all your worries and cares to God for he cares about you.
Joshua 1:9“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
When we put our trust in Him he gives us the strength to hold onto hope, and to persevere.
Isaiah 40:31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength, They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
As I write this God brought back to my memory of a quote that I had read on another missionary’s (at the time) facebook wall. This was a number of years ago, back in the beginning when I was in the throes of culture shock and felt like quitting and it truly helped me to put my emotions into perspective.
Remember how you felt in the beginning…
“When the going gets tough in full time ministry it helps to go back to the moment you were certain the Holy Spirit whispered “Go, Serve and Love” Remember how you felt, remember how you were overwhelmed at the need, remember the passion you felt to respond, remember how gripped you were in your heart and you couldn’t shake it, remember when you thought the cost was worth it, remember when you made the commitment, remember when you knew that this was His call on your life.” Remember?”…Sandra McIntosh.
When you feel like quitting or giving up…Don’t..
There will be times when you will want to throw in the towel and walk away, feeling like a failure. Don’t. Nothing would make the enemy happier than to have people give up and walk away from what they know God has called them to do and give in to defeat and discouragement. Trials don’t last forever. They may not end when or how we would like them to….but you will be ok. God is the one who sustains us. He is the one who can bring healing to a painful situation, encouraging us through His Word. And remember that God is in control. Not us. Not other people.
2 Corinthians 4:17, 18 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long, Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them all and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now: rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now, will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.