Today is 2/5 (Tues)/13.  “I am feeling somewhat better.  Trying to drink enough water, and consume enough food continues to be a struggle.  But I am trying. “

This American gal found that my culture from back home, worked against me in the bush! Here people eat for sustenance.  You eat whatever is put before you because who knows when your next meal might come. But back home, we have such plenty that we can eat pretty much whatever we want, whenever we want.  We don’t eat for sustenance, we eat for pleasure.  Therefore, it was a struggle to eat when I didn’t feel like eating.  Back home, if I don’t feel like eating, I don’t.  The mindset behind such a choice is that I know that when I do feel like eating there will be all the food I could want.

As I struggled with such thinking, I got some of the most welcomed news.  The staff, that included me, would be leaving in a couple of days to return to the compound where my son and the other missionaries lived.  There we would recoup and reassess.  You know what I thought of when I found out I would be leaving for a few days?  Yep, a comfortable bed, a nearby bathroom, good food (because my daughter-in-law and the other missionary wife are fabulous cooks), and nice accommodations!

As a matter of fact, the routine was going to be: 4 or 5 days at the camp, then 2 or 3 days back at the missionary’s compound (for the staff).  When I was told this, I felt encouraged. I began to feel not nearly as overwhelmed and began to form a more positive attitude about my ability to endure and be successful.  God had not led me there to be overwhelmed by the negatives. Actually, He never does.

Because of what I was going through, my son and I got into a thought provoking conversation about suffering.  American Christianity, it seems, rejects the main tool of God’s to transform us to be more like Christ. Suffering!  When something unpleasant happens, what is the first thing we ask God to do?  Yep, you guessed it.  We ask God to remove it.

I know, that is certainly what I did.  But guess what?  He didn’t immediately change anything for me.  Instead, He forced me to find Him in the midst of my unpleasant circumstances.  During my sojourn through this difficult time, I discovered some pretty impressive things.  God was my constant companion.  I talked to Him almost nonstop. Time and time again I would hear Him speak to me through His word, through conversations with others in camp, through the experiences I would have as I interacted with the people and their environment.  Seems God was consistently pushing me to focus on everything but myself. (I so needed that!) 

Here’s a thought to ponder:

We tend to become self-focused in our suffering.  That’s the way of the ‘old man’, you see.  But the ‘new’ man becomes focused more on Christ in his suffering.

2 Corinthians 5:17 puts it this way: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

or  Colossians 3:9-10, Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, . . 

I learned a lot from my illness (and I continue to learn as I write this blog). And one of the most profound statements made to me by my son during this challenging time was:

My decision to follow Christ meant that because of Christ, I would know suffering. My life would not be easy; nor would my family’s.

We American Christians focus too much on having it easy.  And sitting here in all our abundance, we think  the question we have to ask ourselves is,”What would we have to give up to live our lives for Christ?”

Yes, we focus too much on what we have to give up to live for Christ. Therefore, we never get to consider what we have to gain.  When I was with my son and the other missionaries, I never once heard anyone talking about how hard their lives were.  No, instead I kept hearing about how exciting it was to live the life God had called them to. They felt privileged to get to live like that.  And believe me, I got a good picture of why they feel that way and why that is true.

I’ll close now but I want to leave this with you.

If you laid aside your fears of what living your life for Christ might require, would you hear God calling you to be a missionary?