When my teammate and I moved to a new city in Cambodia, we had the awesome opportunity to house-sit for another expat family while they were on furlough for a year.
The only problem was that we needed a place to live for the four months before they left, so we found a guest house nearby that allowed longer-term rentals.
Most people thought we were crazy. We had one bedroom and a smaller side room that doubled as a mini-kitchen. We had running hot water which was a vast improvement over our previous living space in the village, but not a whole lot of room for our possessions and each other.
We were coming out of an incredibly hard year dealing with rocky hard soil in ministry, daily battles with the enemy of our souls as well as heat, never-ending dust, neighbors that cut off our water supply, and what felt like every day failure.
When I think about those months staying at the guest house, I remember walks to a nearby coffee shop to journal and pray and heal. I think of the restaurant downstairs for the days we didn’t have the energy to cook. I think of our creativity to find space for each other, space for quiet and work and fun. I found energy to gently exercise again. I found ways to connect with new friends.
But honestly, that season has another word that waves like a banner over the days and months. Stuck.
Despite so many things being better in this new city and the gifts of the guest house and house-sitting arrangement, I wasn’t sure I could keep going, and I wrote these words over and over.
“Why won’t God just send me home for good?”
These are not the words you would expect to find penned in a Kingdom worker’s journal, are they? I was so ashamed to even write them.
I was supposed to be in Cambodia forever. There was no exit strategy, because this work took dedication and sacrifice and time. There was no option in my mind but to stay.
Perhaps you’ve found yourself asking a similar question over the hard months of 2020. God, why won’t you open up the borders again? When will we be able to start ministry safely? What good could possibly come from this? God, why won’t you change things?
God didn’t send me home for good in that season. To be honest, things got worse in my heart and mind before they got better. Being stuck is hard and uncomfortable, even painful. We can fight it, wriggling in our souls and wrestling in our spirits to be free from the spaces that feel confining.
I’m not going to preach to you about learning the lessons God has for you in the stuck places. I won’t tell you that it will all get better, or that you can count on getting unstuck in just a matter of time.
I don’t know what places have you feeling stuck, or what questions are bubbling to the surface or flowing out of pens on paper. I do want to say that you are not alone. We join countless saints of old who flung their questions to the heavens as they wondered when God would show up again.
“How long, O Lord?” David and the other psalmists cried. Daniel had prayed for deliverance for his people, but harder days were coming and he was “overcome and sick for days” (Daniel 8:27). Isaiah said, “Lord, in distress we searched for you.” (Isaiah 26:16)
What I did learn in those hard weeks and months of feeling abandoned, stuck in a place I didn’t want to be, was that God was there. I was angry with Him for a long time, but He met me and loved me anyway. He didn’t answer my prayer for release in that season, but He gave me rest. I was still in the same place but when I stopped fighting, I didn’t feel so trapped.
So be honest, friend. Bring your questions and sorrows and let God meet you in the stuck places in your life. Acknowledge that it is hard and painful. I pray you find rest and release, even right there where you are.
What questions are on your heart in this season? Is there a cry from God’s Word that reflects your own heart cry right now?