“Don’t worry for me Melissa, I will be fine. I’m the daughter of Jesus the King and He tells me in His word that He takes care of the birds and provides for all their needs. He also tells me how much more valuable I am to Him than birds so I have no reason to worry.” These were the words I heard while standing outside of our church building last week. They were being spoken to me by a woman who was leaving the house of refuge to transition to living on her own. This was a joyful event in many ways but also one that was bittersweet.
You see this woman has never lived on her own. She went from living with her family, to moving in with her boyfriend at a VERY young age. She endured life with this boyfriend for 12 years until she was rescued and came to the house of refuge. I say she “endured” life with the boyfriend because her life with him was nothing short of tragic. For confidentiality reasons I won’t go into what she has suffered but I will say she’s been through horrors that most of us wouldn’t even be able to imagine. She was rescued from this life by Pastor Jorge and his family to come to live at the house of refuge. This is where she has lived for the past 3 years.
Now the day had come where she would be living on her own and raising her children on her own for the first time. She was excited to be taking this step but also nervous. Pastor Jorge’s family had paid her first month’s rent, she had some furniture as a result of the legal proceedings when she left her boyfriend, she had enough money to buy gas to cook with and she had Q200 (about $25) left over for food for her and her kids. She has no job but there are plans for her to start a tortilla selling business with a neighbor because she had a tortilla shop in the past. I couldn’t help but express my concern for her. But she stood there and encouraged me with the words that I used to start this blog and with this Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
As I’ve spent this week reflecting on that conversation I can’t help but to once again be in awe of Jesus and the way He cares for us. I know from my personal experiences over the last 2 years that the more we are dependent on God the more we see His faithfulness and the less reason we have to worry. There have been so many times during this journey of giving up our lives in the states and moving to Guatemala that I just didn’t understand how something was going to happen but God comes through every time and as a result my faith continues to grow.
As I’ve thought about this conversation with my friend this week I’ve been reminded that the more difficult our trials are the stronger our faith is once we’re through those trials. There have been some things I’ve worried about in the past that no longer worry me because I’ve seen God’s faithfulness and know He will come through. This is how my friend can have the faith she has. Yes, her situation looks bleak to most. But when you consider the horrors Jesus has rescued her from already, when you realize the healing He has given and continues to give her, and when you look back on the ways Jesus has provided for her and her children’s every spiritual, emotional, and physical need you can see why she has such faith. Living through unimaginable horrors, finding refuge and healing in Jesus, and seeing Him provide for your every need makes it easier to look at not having a job, not having money for next months rent, and only have $25 to feed your kids as little things. Although, my stomach twists at just the thought of being in a situation like this she knows that if God can rescue and heal her from her past OF COURSE He can take care of the “little” concerns she’s facing now.
I share this story with you to encourage you as it has encouraged me. Some of us are doing ok and aren’t facing any trials right now but we know they’ve come before and they will come again. Others of us are in the midst of trials right now and are just barely facing another day. Wherever you are be encouraged by this story of my dear sister. I hope Jesus uses her story to bring His hope to your heart as He has mine. Though I’ve seen this over and over during my time in Guatemala I never stop being amazed at how God takes those that I’ve come to minister to and uses them to minister to me.
I want to leave you with a nugget shared by our worship leader, T.J. Ray, in a sermon he gave a few weeks ago about worry. He shared with us 4 questions that someone shared with him during one of his difficult times: Do you believe that God is all powerful? Do you believe God loves you? Do you believe God wants the best for you? If so, why are you worried?
Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4