(published 2003, Adventist Review)
Sometimes a fog of discouragement clouds my vision and my view is not very appealing. What once brought pride and satisfaction is now a pathetic sketch of mishaps and coincidences. What once was a source of encouragement is now a sore irritation.
Without a WOW moment in a while, my spirituality is in a slump. When the petty takes control of the day, it’s difficult to remember what it was like just a while ago. Clouds hang heavy at such times. Times like when . . .
I read the chronicles of conversion in other 10-40 window areas and can barely hear a few lethargic sheep bleating in the Nepal fold;
I return from vacation to be bombarded by complaints of irate workers about trivial problems;
I take 3 hours and pass 7 army checkpoints to travel 12 miles to do my weekly shopping;
I find Roy at times too busy being missionary in Nepal to be husband and father;
I read an anonymous letter listing the sins of a church leader in Southern Asia;
I learn that the three new members joined the church because they thought it guaranteed a job.
At such moments I hear a voice telling me “Pack up and leave. NOW.” And I embarrassedly remember the accolades and praises we receive from friends back home—all in admiration of what we are doing in Nepal. If they could only see me now! The weight of my gloom emphasizes the hypocrite within me. What am I doing here? I should be home, close to my college-age son. I should be concentrating on my career. Is it all worth the spattering of miracles now and then?
Discouragement can be fatal to spirituality. It quickly translates a satisfying spiritual past into a series of superfluous, insignificant blah blah blah’s—noise that drowns out the good and positive.
From the lessons I learned since at my mother’s knee, I know what I must quickly say to the one sucking out my enthusiasm–“Away from me, Satan!” The solution to my negativity is really as simple as that. I need to get the focus off myself, get off my high horse and let go of the reins. In my humanness, the present looks bleak and hopeless. But heaven looks down, sees God in control and cheers the march forwards and upwards.
So I force my unwilling soul to do what is unnatural at the moment—I get down on my knees. I raise my soul heavenwards. I tightly shut my eyes so I can see. And I see people touched by God’s children passing through this land.
I see Biku Maya. Homeless and illiterate, she can’t understand what goes on in church, but she comes anyway—just to be in God’s house, with God’s people. She comes because someone, a very long time ago, showed her the compassion of Jesus.
I see Aarti. She used to work in her mother’s tea stall from before sunrise to way past sunset. But now she goes to school because John and Ruth who came here as volunteers one summer are giving her the gift of education.
I see Dawachiki. She used to be a beggar outside our walls, but the hospital stepped into her life some 30 years ago. Now she is a ward aide in the hospital and has seen her daughter become a nurse.
I see Surya. She began doing odd jobs around the hospital at the young age of 13. Today she is the hospital’s chief financial officer. Her life is such an intertwining of Adventism that she’s decided to join the church.
I see Bishnu. He struggles with alcoholism in a land that does not recognize it as a disease. The hospital now conducts one of the two Alcoholics Anonymous programs in the country–to bring hope to him and others like him.
I see terrorists, near death, brought to this hospital because they know that here compassion overrides prejudice, hatred, and even fear.
I see women who can now ride the bus and shop on their own because ADRA has taught them to read and count change.
I see these lives touched by those who come and go, those who leave behind a legacy of God’s eternal control over His church, over His people, in this country and everywhere.
Where I am today, the view may not be good, but if I listen hard enough, I hear Him through the din and fog. He tells me “Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9