Saturday, June 22, 2013

Faith and Hope

The events of the past few weeks have definitely exercised our faith! But they have also caused us to lean on the hope that we have in Christ, and to humble ourselves in prayer. I am not a person who spiritualizes every little thing that happens throughout the day, but it really feels like we have been under attack these past few weeks. Just when we were gaining momentum in our ministry partner development, we encountered some huge bumps in the road.

As I mentioned in our last post, Ian had an emergency appendectomy on Memorial Day, and was hospitalized for eight days. This was a difficult experience in and of itself. After coming home, Ian seemed to be improving at first. On Father's Day, we spoke about our ministry with MMS at Hope United Methodist Church. Ian was not feeling well that morning, but made it through the day.

On Monday we took him to see the pediatric surgeon who had performed the appendectomy, and Ian was readmitted to the hospital due to an abscess that had formed. To complicate matters, the abscess was in a difficult location, and they could not easily drain it. We decided to treat him with intravenous antibiotics (which he will be on for about two weeks). As if that wasn't enough, he also tested positive for c. diff and had to be put on yet another antibiotic to treat that. Finally, they had trouble inserting his PICC line, which made for a very traumatic experience for Ian. It seemed that everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

In times like this, 1 Peter 5:6-11 comes to mind:
 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
We are so thankful for the hope and comfort that we have in Christ. There is nothing that can steal that hope away from us. It is this hope that allows those in Christ to face any situation that life (or the enemy) can throw at us. While we certainly appreciate every heartfelt expression of sympathy that has been offered to us from believers and nonbelievers alike, there is only so much hope and strength that can come from within oneself, or from the greeting card platitudes that the world has to offer. True hope—living hope—can only be found in one person.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  (1 Peter 1:3-7)
In addition to Ian's medical issues, both of our vehicles (which have been extremely reliable for the past seven years) needed repair in the past few weeks. Furthermore, the medical bills will start coming about the same time that we have a significant reduction in our household income beginning in July. I don't say these things because I want anyone to feel pity for us. God has provided us with everything we need and more. And I am aware there are many people in my community and around the world facing much more dire circumstances! I point these things out only to emphasize the fact that this feels a lot like a coordinated attack.

The upside of these trials is that we are relying more and more on God, and we have seen just how many people care for us, and are supporting and praying for us. We are so thankful for the many, many family and friends who have been faithfully praying and helping to meet our needs during this time. We could not be more blessed!

We know that in our missionary service we will face many difficult times, and perhaps the trials we are experiencing now are a blessing in disguise, preparing us for the situations we will face in the future. It is easy to take matters into our own hands when we feel that everything is under control. But the times of testing drive us to our knees, strengthen our faith, and teach us to fix our eyes on Christ. We have also come to see that there is a community of family and friends who truly love and care for us, and will be standing with us. We are very blessed!

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