As much as I’d like to escape some of my first-world problems while overseas, sadly I cannot.
Life just doesn’t stop here because I’m there.
There have been trips almost cut short because of fevers so high in one of the children they were having seizures. Other trips have been stopped before I even left the country due to emergency surgery.
But these high-stress situations are less the norm than the usual struggles of life that can so easily invade and sometimes overwhelm our lives while I’m working overseas. Bills must still get paid. Part-time work must still be finished. When an appliance breaks, it can’t wait three weeks until I get home. Inevitably, someone almost always gets sick at home, so that the virus runs through everyone in the family and no one leaves the house for weeks.
Stress when we are together as a family is one thing, but when apart, it often seems so much harder to handle. Overseas working brings me great joy, but it also can leave me sapped, even blue. Jet lag, adapting to different cultures, adjusting to different languages. Praying that all is OK at home. Wondering if today I’ll be able to communicate and connect. I worry what impact all of this is having on my children. They need their father, don’t they?
I know my wife can feel the same. A family was meant to be together, to pray together, to find solutions together, to rely on God together.
Perhaps my wife and I are not as strong as we thought we were. Maybe it’s just us getting older. Sometimes our choice of ministry seems so foolish we consider quitting. Yes, quitting.
We rely on others for prayer and funding support, and that in itself is a struggle I sometimes loathe. I was raised to work hard and ask no one for help. Somehow, relying on monthly support is a difficult concept for me to balance with my upbringing. And while we somehow manage each month (thank you, Jesus), some months it feels like we need just a little more. Like when the roof leaks and the insurance deductible is $1,000.
We want to obey God’s call. We want to be His servants, to fulfill our purpose. But the life we’ve chosen also requires others to fulfill their purpose.
And so after every trip, we pray and assess whether this is still God’s direction in our lives. And sensing that it is, we try to push our struggles aside and move on, trusting that our needs will be provided.
You see, we want to be like George Müller, who always seemed to have faith that he would get what he needed from the Lord despite the odds against him. Like Müller, we want to be uplifted and give thanks even when we have nothing.
During a summer trip overseas, my wife sent me a passage from the book on Müller that she had been reading to the children. In this particular passage, George is once again waiting for God’s provision.
“Each day nothing happened. But George did not get discouraged; he just kept praying and asking God to give him more faith to keep believing.”
So today, like every day, I’m praying. Praying that God will give me more faith to keep believing, always trusting that He will answer.