The reality is that most people here don’t have access to clean drinking water, and I am complaining about limited internet service! The fact that I even have a roof over my head that doesn’t leak and tile on my floor instead of dirt, puts me WAY above the standard of living for the majority of Haitian familes...
It really is all about perspective...
The frustrating moments over the past week have led to some moments of conviction and repentance in my own heart... they have also reminded me of my favorite passage in Scripture...
In Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth he talks about how living a life that glorifies God is not going to be easy- that affliction, hardship, persecution will come (and it HAD come MANY times for Paul!). And then he goes on to say this (my favorite verses!)-
“For our light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient (temporary) but the things that are unseen are eternal.” [2 Corinthians 4:17-18]
For me, this internet issue would be considered a “light” affliction right?!?!
But seriously, in the grand scheme of things, I can’t even call it an affliction!
I could call it a hardship- but even that sounds too harsh!
Maybe more like an inconvenience...
AND YET... I let myself complain, and get frustrated and irritated because of it!
The point that I am getting to here is that what Paul considered “light” and “momentary” was the YEARS of troubles that he endured for the sake of spreading the Gospel. When you continue reading 2 Corinthians, he explained just some of those troubles- 5 times he received 40 lashes less one, 3 times he was beaten with rods, 3 times shipwrecked, a night and a day adrift at sea, in danger from robbers, Jews, Gentiles, the city, the wilderness... often sleepless nights, hunger and thirst and nakedness, PLUS he feels the weight of all of the churches' burdens on his shoulders (2 Corinthians 11)...
And all of this- he considered LIGHT and MOMENTARY! (and I complain about the internet...)
It’s so humbling isn’t it? Who I am to think that my struggles are even REAL struggles when I put it into perspective?
This past week, Phil had the privilege of sitting down with a local Haitian pastor named Enick and to hear some stories of what he has been experiencing in his church. He pastors a church up in the mountains called Coup-A-David. We visited his church two Sundays ago and what an awesome day that was... after over an hour of hiking, crossing streams and climbing up and around rocks and through mud and the hot sun, we arrived at this beautiful church. (Here are a few pictures)
What Pastor Enick is doing for his church and the people in his community is what makes this church so beautiful. The burden that he has for people who are in bondage to Satan and to disciple his congregation is inspiring. He IS the hands and feet of Jesus... He IS living the Gospel... He IS a beautiful example of what it means to face hardship and difficulty for the sake of the Kingdom.
(Just to give you some perspective- Enick shared with Phil about a girl that came to his church who was afflicted by an evil spirit. He prayed for 21 days straight for her healing... THREE SOLID WEEKS with NO SLEEP because he was burdened for her soul... and God sustained him through it all, and she was delivered!... and this is just ONE experience of many that he shared.)
That verse in 2 Corinthians was always special to me because it helped me to remember that life is often difficult, but that when we live for Christ, we have eternity to look forward to it- and our troubles here seem so small in comparison... which is great.
But now that I have lived here in Haiti and seen and heard what so many pastors endure for the sake of others’ salvation... it changes things for me.
NOW when “seemingly” difficult things come up, instead of getting overly frustrated- or even (on the flipside) feeling overly guilty for being upset about something so trivial- I am reminded to PRAY for those who are truly experiencing afflictions and hardships... to lift up those who are giving their lives for the Gospel.
Not only that, it inspires me to want to face difficulty in a way that brings glory to God and to be willing to do hard things, knowing that God being glorified far outweighs any struggle that I may face...
To be able to say (as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12), “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Now that I have taken a step back, I have really come full circle on this whole internet thing...
What I mean to say is this (or in Creole "kisa mwen vle di")- compared to what we are used to from living in the U.S. not having communication with the outside world IS a hardship... not being able to connect with family and friends (especially this past week with the loss of my grandmother) isn’t easy... BUT it reminds me to ask these question: Why am I here? Why do I endure it?
For the sake of Christ.
If God can use my little inconvenience (that seems so big sometimes) to place a burden in my heart for the truly HARD things that are going on around me, than I am thankful for it.
I am learning that if we can look at every difficulty in our lives and ask God to help us to glorify Him through it, we will be much better off.
If we can stop and look around at all the MANY blessing that we do have amidst our struggles, it will do us a world of good.
And, most importantly, if we can be willing to step out and truly live out the Gospel (like Paul and Enick) knowing that the eternal glory far outweighs the pain or hardship, than our world will be a better place because of it and God’s kingdom will be expanded through it.
I want to close with more of Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 12. He says this,
“I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.”
The question we need to ask ourselves is this:
Are we REALLY willing to spend ourselves, to face “light momentary afflictions”, for the sake of others’ souls?