If any time earned the title for a crisis, it was this one.
The country’s petrol pumps had run dry. Power cuts increased to 16 hours a day. Gas for cooking was unavailable for purchase. Rice, milk, and even water were in short supply.
The electricity was off when we woke up and when we went to bed and would come some time in the night. The comforting glow of our bedside heater would wake me up, and I would fall asleep again with a smile. But it wouldn’t last long.
Since the first month we arrived and the earthquake rocked this nation and forced us out of our new home, I had been operating in survival mode. My husband urged me, “It will all be over soon. We have to keep pushing.”
And we did, for months, through thousands of aftershocks, through protests, and essential good shortages. Sleep deprivation fueled the turmoil in my heart about the issues at hand. Apparently, moving across the world and surviving major natural disasters is a little much for a 3 month new baby and 3 year old girl.
I walked miles from the coffee shop turned classroom to get home to them every day. All I could do once I got there was fire up the hot plate to make dinner before the power cut. I then collapsed on the couch to be a toddler jungle gym/baby-feeding station for the rest of the evening. I felt guilty about my perceived shortcomings as a mother and my inability to summon the energy to love them better, to be more patient with their tendencies to act like the babies they were but wouldn’t be for much longer.
Some days were better, and we would find a taxi that was powered by black-market petrol. We would give the exorbitant price required to just rest in the backseat. I almost always fell asleep. Like the country I lived in, I was running out of fuel.
The whisperings of my soul settled my ever-anxious heart. “My power knows no limits. My peace is in abundant supply. I’m carrying you, dear daughter.”
I was tired enough to believe it.
And I was hopeful enough to believe that the Lord brought us here for such a time as this, though accepting my reality became increasingly difficult with each passing day.
I didn’t speak the language yet. We didn’t have a ministry. What sense could be made of our rejection to enter the country where we had planned to serve only to be thrown into this strange place days before it erupted into chaos?
I felt much like I imagine the widow to have felt in 1 Kings 17. She had next to nothing, far less than I had at this time. She thought she would eat her last food ration and die, and God sent Elijah her way to FEED. How encumbered she must have felt by this seemingly impossible task! Though the promise of further sustainment by the hand of the Lord seemed too good to be true, in faith, she obeyed and served this stranger the tiny cake he requested.
Making that small pastry took big faith, and this otherwise deceased and forgotten woman lived for many more days on the promise fulfilled and is remembered still today. Her flour and oil didn’t run out, and I can only imagine how her faith must have grown. Certainly her opportunities to serve those hurting in her community abounded.
Like the widow’s pantry, my puddle of power refilled each day just as I thought it would run dry. My faith grew as did my opportunities to serve those whose worldly sources of power had depleted. I couldn’t offer petrol or cooking gas, but I shared the hope within me supplied by the power of the God-man who defeated the grave. My babies turned out just fine, too, if not better than they would have apart from this period of going without.
I earned my sleep those days. I earned my acquired language. I think I may have even earned veteran cross-cultural servant status after just a few months. I was praised by onlookers for my perseverance despite undesirable circumstances, but I knew where the power came from. I couldn’t rightfully take credit, though, truthfully, at the end of each day, I wanted to give myself a high-five and a bowl of ice cream.
The joy of the Lord was my strength. The God who says, “Behold, I am the God of all flesh” abides inside of me and reminds me gently that nothing is too hard for Him (Jer 32:27). He lifts the feet I drag along on dreary days and propels my hands to serve. Hopeless day after hopeless day, He has shown me my lack of faith in His capable hands by doing nothing other than holding me there.
I lift the hands He’s filled to praise Him for my cup that, against all odds, runs over.
What challenges in your setting have made it difficult to trust God’s sufficiency?
How have you seen Him provide the power you need each day?