When Velvet Ashes first reached out to me to write, I thought I would have a million words to say about anticipation. Words about how we can anticipate all the great things the Father is going to do and the great hope that awaits us as long as we continue to persevere.
Instead, every time I sat down to write I found that my mind was blank. Instead of being met with words of encouragement to offer you, I felt overwhelmed by all my unknowns. Only then to be met with guilt.
I feel guilty that this year has been hard when I feel like it shouldn’t be. I live in a country that has remained largely unaffected by Covid. There is honestly no other place I would rather be right now, and I am so thankful that the Father has allowed me to stay here through this pandemic.
Life has remained relatively normal here in my tiny little Southeast Asian home. We are free to go out and hang with our friends. Locals’ questions of why I didn’t go back to my passport country have been replaced by reassurances that I was wise to stay. And social distancing is nothing more than a mere memory. Yet even amongst all this “normalcy”, so many reminders that this year has been anything but normal hang in the air.
We are still waiting for borders to re-open and visas to be issued so teammates can return. There are businesses that have closed permanently and plans that have been postponed indefinitely. And so many questions are still unanswered.
This year has been anything but normal, and we’re surrounded by unknowns.
So how do we anticipate the unknown? How do we look forward to what is coming when we can’t see what it is?
Back at the beginning of this year, I would have told you I was doing just fine, and it was the truth. I was fine! I was handling the pandemic in stride, certain it would all be over soon. Even when we went on a countrywide lockdown, I felt alright. I was bummed that I wasn’t able to see people, but for the most part I was content to spend my days swinging in my hammock with a good book in one hand and a mango smoothie in the other.
Summer came and by the Father’s good grace we were out of lockdown and back to work. The Father did some really cool things this summer too! Things that likely wouldn’t have happened if it had been a normal year, and it filled my heart with joy to get to be part of it. “See, the Father still does great things even with a global pandemic going on,” I told everyone assuredly.
But as time went on, the joy of summer wore off and the pandemic wore on. My confident proclamation was replaced with doubts and questions like, “Okay, well, what now?”
In Psalm 31 David writes, “Be gracious to me, Father, because I am in distress; my eyes are worn out from frustration – my whole being as well.” With summer long gone and a new year quickly approaching, I have felt the frustrations of not knowing kick in. My nonchalant optimism dissipated. I feel distressed and worn out.
I have no idea.
But as I read this Psalm again it’s not David’s distress that catches my eye, but his appeal. “Be gracious to me,” he pleas. And it only takes a little further reading to see that the Father is gracious indeed. He can’t help but be gracious, because being gracious is part of who He is.
Have I mentioned yet that there is so much that is unknown? My work here relies heavily on the borders reopening, and it could still be a while until they do. I’m pretty sure my friends and family have grown tired of me answering all their questions with, “I don’t know” and a shrug of my shoulders. Honestly, I have too.
Like David, there have been days where it feels like my whole being is worn out from frustrations. I struggle to anticipate what’s to come when I have no clue what may be coming.
But I do anticipate this…
The Father will be gracious. It is who He is and He is unchanging. He was gracious to David, He will be gracious to me, and He will be gracious to you.
He has been gracious in allowing me to ride out this pandemic here in Southeast Asia. He has been gracious to me in my friendships here which are giving me the motivation I need to keep persevering. He has been gracious on the days that I question and doubt. And He will be gracious in all the unknowns to come.
How has the Father been gracious to you this year? How do you anticipate that He will continue to be gracious to you in the year to come?