Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Even in the Tough Times

I have been having a hard time trying to figure out what to write this week. We spent the last week helping The Oasis staff and a medical team from Texas with a medical clinic in Zapote. It was a difficult week for many. Normally this group was led by the team coordinator Josh Ma. I have helped them with 8 or 9 clinics and he has been the lead on all but this one. He was not able to lead this time because he was very ill. He has been battling stomach cancer and it spread to most of his other organs. He lost a lot of weight because the tumor was so large he could not eat. He had a feeding tube placed in his intestines to try and get him some nourishment. Unfortunately the tube did not seal and leaked into his body cavity causing severe infection. On Thursday one of the Kid's Alive staff got frequent prayer updates and they culminated in the news that he passed away at 3 p.m. 

In my home Church there is a man that has been faithful to attend and pray for many years. He was an encourager for all that were there. He always had a hug and a smile for everybody. When he prayed for you, you knew that you were loved. A few months ago he was diagnosed with cancer as well. He had been going through treatment and when I was in Morris for Christmas I thought he looked good seemed to be doing well also. Chemo destroys he immune system and he got sick. He wound up in ICU a few days ago. This morning he passed away also.

Other than the fact that they were both Godly men and they both had families, their lives were very different. One was young, had left a professional position to pursue missions. The other had worked hard and lived in the same area most of his life. One had a young wife, a small daughter and another child on the way. The other lost his wife to cancer several years ago and his children were now adults with families of their own. Thy were different in many ways but the end of their life journey here has had a singular impact on me

The effect of these two deaths has caused me to question the direction of my life. I am missing time with family and friends in Morris. Someday I will loose people closer to me than these two friends. Will I regret not being there the last few years?  Will I be able to be at a funeral for a close family member or friend, knowing that I was not there when their time on earth ended? I have asked myself this question before but it seemed like there was a greater urgency to have an answer this time. Fortunately, God is faithful to let us know when we are where we are supposed to be.

At Josh's funeral on Saturday, a friend< Doug shared how Josh was ready to go and be with Jesus. He had held on for his wife and children but his heart was ready to be at rest with Jesus. If he was not to be healed, he wanted to go. That type of assurance can only come from a close walk with Jesus. He loved his family but was in the place that he knew Jesus could care for them better than he could.While he wanted to be there for them, he had confidence that Jesus would walk through this with them, comfort them and care for them in the future. He was ready to hear his Father welcome him home into his reward.

We all are going to go through difficult times. We have families that may suffer when we cannot be there for them. Life on this planet can be difficult at times and we are all touched by the brokenness that surrounds us. We have to know the love of Jesus and be confident in the course that He sets for us. Even more I think is that we have to know His love and care for our families. We have to learn to trust Him with their care. He can do what we cannot. He can give them life, both now and for eternity.

I need to remind myself frequently that I am not called to live for this world. That includes the people and relationships that are dear to me. I am called to live for eternity. That does not mean I cannot have real and deep relationships here but that I cannot let them be my motivation. If I follow Jesus I can trust Him o take care of the people that matter to me. My best reward will be eternity, filled with the people I love. I cannot get them there Only God can do that. I can pray for them and share truth with them but He is the one that draws them to a life giving relationship with Himself. As for me, I choose to let go of the here and now so that I can rejoice for eternity with those I love. Who knows,  if I do not obey God's voice one of the testimonies that He desires to use to draw them may not exist.

The best way to get through the tough times is to remember that we are not called to live for this world. The best way to find the courage to follow God in tough places is to focus on eternal rewards and not immediate gratification. Remind yourself that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow so we need to make our choice to obey today. God may not be calling you to leave your country but He is calling you to a risky and costly role. Obedience to Jesus will cost you but the rewards will be worth it.

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