Peace For Our Hearts When Life is Anything But

Sometimes all the voices we hear are negative. As women living on the fringes of culture, overseas and in service, we can get used to the sideways glances and the undeniable truth that a lot of people don’t really “get” what it is we’re doing.

I remember when my husband and I returned from the field and people would ask me how our “trip” had been. I’d nod and crack a half smile and mumble something, but my head would be spinning with things I wanted to say.

“A trip? That wasn’t a trip. That was our life.”

“A trip? You want me to sum it up in a quick sentence or two?” {Arggggghhhhhh}

The distance between our reality and other people’s perceptions of what we do on the field can seem like a gaping chasm.

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever—

I’ve always been fascinated when Scripture calls the Holy Spirit our “Comforter”. Different translations say “Counselor” or “Helper”. It’s not the word I would have guessed to describe the Spirit. Yet that is exactly what it is called and I think for so many of us the Comforter speaks to us with understanding.

We’re reminded by the Spirit that we don’t live and work and survive on the field for no reason.

When our friends and family cock their eyebrows at us or unload twenty questions about the why of taking their grandchildren overseas or living in unsecure places sometimes our answers can seem trite or ill-conceived. Sometimes the only place we have to go is into our prayer closets to hear the truth of the Spirit singing over us. Our callings are affirmed and re-affirmed in the quiet of those moments.

Scripture tells us the peace that passes all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and often I think that is what the Holy Spirit does for us. The Spirit guards us when those around us want to attack and cast doubt. The Spirit can guard us even when our own flesh attacks and casts doubt.

All that noise coming at us from the outside (and the inside) can get loud. We get restless when the bits and pieces of our life overseas seem so fragmented we lose sight of the big picture. Our expectations can get all busted up leaving us discontent and confused.

I remember sitting in one of the nicest houses in Liberia over Christmas with a heart full of doubt. We’d had the unexpected blessing of house sitting for a few days for a high profile doctor and his wife who were Stateside for the holidays. It was a much needed respite from our daily life up country in the bush and thick of a refugee crisis.

It was in that comfortable, spacious house with 24/7 electricity that I recognized the distance between the Spirit and me.

We can be right in the middle of all the good we’ve been sent to do, but still be far from the comfort of the peace of Jesus. The Spirit offers peace in the midst of our crazy, but we have to be tuned in to hear. Some of us are looking to anyone and everyone to provide that certainty. We’re chasing affirmation from friends, family and colleagues when the Spirit wants us to lean in and listen.

We’ve been sent a Comforter. The Spirit can make our lives full of inconveniences and sacrifices, of which we doubt their worth, into lives filled with quiet purpose and surety.

Our glass slat windows allowed the breeze in and the voices of everyone passing through our yard. Once three young men sat by a tree out front very early in the morning and loudly said our names over and over again. We knew they wanted to ask us for some money. We weren’t happy, but they weren’t leaving. Eventually we came out of the house and lectured them about how inappropriate their behavior was.

The truth sometimes blares at us, but more often it comes quiet and without fanfare. It finds us like Jesus did without much pomp and circumstance.

The Spirit’s whisper tends to be subtle and that is why we have to listen intently. We have to do the work of being present to hear. The Spirit longs to comfort in a way that all the affirmations of the world just can’t live up too.

My prayer for you today is that your heart would be drawn to the Spirit and the comfort that is offered for our wandering, wondering hearts. I pray a fresh wind, the breeze of the Spirit, would blow over your soul reminding your of your purpose and calling in a new way.

Where could you use The Comforter in your life today?

Photo Source : Unsplash

6 Comments

  1. Lisette February 18, 2015

    I remember when my husband and I returned from the field and people would ask me how our “trip” had been. I’d nod and crack a half smile and mumble something, but my head would be spinning with things I wanted to say.
    “A trip? That wasn’t a trip. That was our life.”
    I don’t know how many times I have been through that. Thank you for this post!

  2. MaDonna February 19, 2015

    The Spirit offers peace in the midst of our crazy, but we have to be tuned in to hear. Some of us are looking to anyone and everyone to provide that certainty. We’re chasing affirmation from friends, family and colleagues when the Spirit wants us to lean in and listen.

    Just what I needed to hear this morning – guess that means I’m listening to the Spirit? Thanks for being used by God to speak loudly to me. Something I know, but it is always refreshing to “hear” it from others.

  3. Cecily February 21, 2015

    Wow, Jessica, I think you have been reading my mail!  Thanks for speaking to the things of my heart.  So good to know that the things I struggle with–all the uncertainties–are shared by others.  It is wearisome to be continually misunderstood, but I think Jesus knew the feeling!

  4. Sarah Crane February 22, 2015

    This touches my heart SO deeply in the midst of the season I am in.  Living in a community overseas that seems to be saying “What are you doing here? You’re doing it all wrong and we’re not really sure we want you here anymore. Maybe you should go. Now now.”  Not necessarily those exact words, but those are some of the feelings swirling around and being spoken about our ministry. And it is HARD. And peace is about the opposite of what a lot of my days and weeks have felt like recently.  So thankful to read this and sit with this for a bit. Of course the Lord put this song on as I read this…now tears are rolling…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cH_LLGiE0f0

    1. Cecily February 22, 2015

      Sarah, hang in there!  Bring the painful things to the Lord and let the tears fall.  Even if you don”t have words to say to Him, He knows what your tears mean and He feels the pain and the rejection that you feel.  Keep following Him, one day at a time.  That is all He requires of us, and that is enough.  Psalm 68:19 tells us that Lord daily bears our burdens.  So, as you follow Him one day at a time, bring the heavy things to Him and let Him carry them.

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