Well, that’s going to leave a mark,” I grimaced.
While taking down one of my go-to cookbooks from a shelf that was well beyond my reach, another cookbook toppled with it. Before I could shield my head, the second cookbook crashed into my lifted face and then thudded to the kitchen floor.
“Ouch,” I said as I touched the side of my mouth. “That really hurt.”
As I rubbed my cheek, I thought of John’s departing words this morning. “This day is going just as well as yesterday.” I couldn’t help but agree with him as I winced.
John embarked on another short ministry trip for Zimbabwe this morning. He’ll be away for most of the week. When preparing for a trip, it’s our desire to commit much of our time and energy to that readying effort. It rarely works out that way, though. Life happens. Obstacles arise. Other immediate, time-sensitive needs present themselves. The sort of stuff that is beyond our control.
This trip was no different.
Yet, the challenges that arose seemed to cause more distraction, frustration, impatience and consternation than normal. Things that should have worked, didn’t. Answers that should have come, floundered in cyber abyss. Fixes that should have remained, failed. As this particular Zimbabwe trip neared, more problems developed. It was the proverbial one-thing-happens-after-another series of events happening day after day. As one difficulty layered itself upon another, even more time and energy were spent on these complications. And unfortunately, attitudes that were usually patient and self-controlled were stretched thin, thin, thin. Rather than responding well, we reacted poorly. Ugh.
Missionaries have bad days, too.
We don’t often share about these get-under-your-skin, raw and real type days.
When the uninvited and unwarranted criticism comes
or the water heater stops working
or the computer won’t sync
or the power goes out
or someone asks for one more thing at the last possible moment
or your neighbor’s sewage floods into your back garden
or your kids don’t get along
or your stomach starts to ache
or you just can’t sleep
or a cookbook falls on your head
John and I know we’re dealing with what everyone deals with at one time or another.
Missionaries are real people with real feelings who experience real challenges, too.
And missionaries have bad days. We just don’t share about them that much.
Honestly, it’s because of the people we serve.
We interact with people who provide perspective checks about what a difficult life circumstance really is – day in and day out. As one example, there was a terrible, terrible, terrible storm here yesterday. While we were dealing with our stuff, families were ravaged by the devastation wrought against their homes. Torrential flood waters deluged their shacks and their life’s belongings with mud and debris. While we were dealing with our stuff, others watched their cars submerge under water that had overrun riverbanks. While we were dealing with our stuff, others struggled as their businesses and livelihoods were wiped out by both wind, hail and tornado. John and I may have been experiencing a series of not-so-great days, but those in our midst had just experienced a catastrophic day. The onslaught of stormy weather had decimated their day.
What do John and I have to complain about?
There is always someone in our sphere of influence who has experienced much worse than we have.
In addition, we have observed how people have suffered from afar. Natural disasters have impacted and often devastated the lives of people across the world with hurricanes, wild fires, earthquakes, tornadoes and droughts. The depravity of man is in full view as well. War, terrorism, violent crime, racism, and more pit person against person based upon culture, religious faith, race, and world view. In the midst of it all, there are casualties related to human suffering, significant loss and death.
We don’t take comfort in these harsh realities. Instead, they provide the needed perspective to count our bad days in their proper context. We’ll get through them. Life goes on. Even now, John is driving towards Zimbabwe to serve pastors and ministry leaders there – leaving our set of bad days and their many frustrations in his rear view in Johannesburg.
I’m still here, of course. The challenges remain. However, the sun is shining and there is no cloud in sight this morning. It’s a new day.
And the Lord is with me, too. As He was the past few days – when things kept going awry – and missionaries like us experienced some bad, not-so-very-good days.
Yet, God promises to be with John and me (and you too) in the good, in the bad and in the ugly. My sure and certain faith in the Lord is founded upon my sure and certain hope in Him to help us persevere. I count upon His promises to sustain us.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
New International Version, Hebrews 11:1
Our hope remains.
Honestly, I have no idea why John and I experienced a barrage of nothing-seems-to-be-going-right few days. To say that we were not discouraged or frustrated would be untrue. We were. Sometimes, we are beaten down. There are never-ending needs. Our work never ceases. Expectations run high. However, because of the faith and hope we have in Jesus Christ, we choose not to wallow in that exhausting, disgruntling space. We choose to hold fast to the hope we have in Christ and seek Him to see us through as we keep moving forward.
Like I said, John is on his way to Zimbabwe for three days of ministry. He has set his sights on moving beyond our challenges to focus, to care for, to encourage and to inspire those who have dedicated their lives to pastoring others. Honestly, we are grateful that our vocation in life is to encourage and strengthen others in Christ. It’s the passion of our beating hearts. We love what we do.
Yes, we’ve experienced a few, crazy-making days – but John and I are still here and we’re still fighting strong because of the love and care of our Lord and Savior. Our hearts are steadied by His encouraging and enduring hope. We are okay.
We’d appreciate your prayers, though – especially as John ministers up in Zim.
And be assured, the next time a cookbook starts to fall, I’ll duck!