For our light and momentary struggles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
2 Corinthians 4:17
Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith pruduces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
We remain grounded but with hope. There have been quite a few articles written by the local newspapers about our current flight status as well as the plight of the people we serve in the jungles of Borneo. When I think about the hardship we face with not being able to fly, and then compare it to the hardship that our brothers and sisters are facing by being disconnected in the jungle, there really is no comparison. The people are anxious, discouraged, upset, and we have heard that some are wondering if we aren’t flying because we are mad for some reason or another. This situation breaks my heart.
Just the other day, a troupe of men carried one of their injured friends on a stretcher for a full day while trying to reach one of the villages where we serve. When the men arrived at the village and spoke to the air strip agent, they were told that MAF still does not have permission for fly. They had to return to their village (another day’s journey), uncertain of the fate their friend faces in the coming days. There have been several deaths in the villages we serve because the people were unable to access medical assistance. It is terribly tragic and it is a reminder to me about how important and vital our work is here in Kalimantan. We are hopeful that we can begin flying soon and serve these people once again.
As I think about our struggle here, I am reminded about the power of perspective. I know I have mentioned this before, but I am struck again and again by how important it is to keep my eyes focused on Christ and eternity. If I only focus on my everyday problems and the ways I make mistakes each day, I can get pretty down. But, when I am reminded of who I am in Christ, the incredible price Jesus paid when He died on the cross, and the incredible promises for those who have placed their faith in Christ, well, the problems of my life pale in comparison. I also think about eternity and how it is going to be a lot longer and a lot better than my time here on earth. Why not endure some hardship and maybe some disappointment and maybe even some failure? I am going to spend eternity with God. Let me put myself out there in obedience to God’s call for my life. If I fail, if I struggle, if I have to put up with a little discomfort while living overseas, if I have to spend more time away from family than I would like, If I have to miss that little thing called “winter” for a few years, if I have to smell some things that crinkle my nose, if I have to struggle through communicating in a foreign language, if I have to do whatever it takes to be obedient to God’s call, then let’s do it. Let’s do it well!
The cool thing is, not only do I have eternity to look forward to at the end, but enduring difficult trials helps to grow me up and mature me in Christ. There is something critical to the development of a person that can only be earned through persevering through trials. I am sure you can’t even count the number of people you know or have seen who have been given everything without having to earn it. The term most often used is spoiled. These people are spoiled because they have never had to stand up against opposition. Their parents or whomever have short-circuited their development by not allowing them to face difficulties. But God, who is the most loving Father, allows the difficulties and trials to come in order to develop our faith and our courage. It is hard, but I love that God is not a Father who spoils us and removes all pain. He is a God who allows us to suffer, but promises to be with us and help us through.
So, as we face a few months of not flying and being able to do the work that we have spent years to do; as the people in the interior of Borneo undergo the trial of being cut-off; as you face whatever trial is in front of you, I would echo Paul’s encouragement to consider these “light and momentary troubles” through the lens of eternity. Track with James and find joy and gratitude in difficulties because your Father is growing you up into the image of His Son!