I sit in my home in South Asia without electricity due to a thunderstorm last night. My head is pounding from yesterday’s overload of emotion. This is my home for the moment – but Monday will bring more traveling, more suitcase-living and more uncertainty. I’m tired.
And it’s the perfect morning to begin this blog. Because this blog is about listening God’s whispers. And last night I wanted to do anything but sit still and listen. I was upset that my day had worked out to be unhelpfully difficult. Discouraged that attempting to register at a local office resulted in the necessity of returning to the capital city and registering there first. Unexcited about more travel to spend a week with a friend and her family in a town 12 hours away. Still jet lagged after arriving back from the US six days ago. Honestly, God, couldn’t you let just one thing be easy this month?
When I feel overwhelmed, I usually distract myself with media. But due to the thunderstorm (which also, incidentally, flooded the bedroom), my computer was off, there was no electricity for the DVD player and I’d listened to all my available podcasts. Great.
Something inside told me all of this trouble was probably a well-conceived plot to get me to stop, be quiet and listen. But I was angry and restless. So my final attempt at distraction – “I’m sure I have a novel tucked away somewhere.”
But when I went to my reading stack – the book I’d most recently left out to read was The Call to Joy and Pain by Ajith Fernando. Are you kidding me? Another conspiratory coincidence? I couldn’t ignore this anymore, so I began to read.
In his introduction, Fernando quotes E. Stanley Jones:
Don’t bear trouble, use it. Take whatever happens – justice and injustice, pleasure and pain, compliment and criticism – take it up into the purpose of your life and make something out of it. Turn it into testimony.
As I began to cry (again), the Whisper asked, “What part of your testimony will these recent events become part of? The part where you gathered a load of bitterness and disappointment? Or the part where you trusted God with everything and saw His sovereignty work in your weakness?”
Fernando’s book ties together joy and suffering as Scripture does – which is joy as the blessing of suffering. I definitely affirm that these most recent problems and disappointments do NOT constitute the level of suffering experienced by many. But one thing I am sure of – my first response to “trials of many kinds” is not to rejoice. It takes me a while to move past hostility, condemnation, and self pity to be even close to saying “I rejoice in my sufferings” (Col. 1:24).
But if I keep listening to the Whisperer, maybe it’ll move closer to my first response.