“In this world you will have trouble…
But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 This verse has become a bedrock verse for me. I know that I will have troubles in this world, both small and great. Jesus didn’t tell me that following him meant a physical life of ease and everything happening just the way I think it should. In fact, I spent a couple of years after realizing this truth steeling myself for all the bad things that would happen in my life. But then, His Spirit convicted my heart that this was sin as I was not placing my hope in him and instead was using my emotional energy to protect myself from hardships by minimizing their potential effects on me.
So, I no longer fatalistically await the next bad thing that will happen to me or someone I love dearly. I remind myself and listen to God’s reminders to me through His word and through His body of believers to TAKE HEART! because Jesus Christ has overcome the world. I can cling and hide, curled up in a safe crevice of the All Consuming presence of my Lord who has already overcome the world and will be totally victorious at the end of time. I can trust His words to me in Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (ESV) I believe that He is somehow weaving something for my good and the good of others who love him (though I often don’t feel good or see the immediate good coming from it) and for the good of His glory and His kingdom together. He is big enough for my questions of “Why Lord?” and strong enough to perfect His own strength in my weaknesses. (2 Cor. 12:9) And though I don’t understand events of trouble and tragedy I understand that I am loved and I am a part of Jesus’ body and that He is passionate about His own glory and so very sad for those who hurt. He redeems bad things and makes them good and so I trust He always has a way to redeem sin and death and make it good with His holiness.
These are my thoughts because of Wednesday’s troubles. One of my dearest friends in the world, Esowe Adam, who has been my Kabiye language teacher, confidante, sister in the Lord, encourager, and bosom friend lost her 3 month old baby girl, Esther Samto Wednesday evening. Esther was happy, smiling, and playing with her older sister Hannah (who is the same age and a friend to my daughter Hannah) and she suddenly let out a sharp scream and died. We don’t know why she died and will not find a physical cause in this place of limited medical care. Esowe called our team of families an hour or so after she died and my husband David and teammates Emily, Andrea, and Tracey and I went to her house. We hugged on and sobbed with Esowe and looked at and touched little Esther’s body. We whispered the deep one sentence prayers that one can only barely get out in moments of such grief. They buried her body early the next morning and I have gone over to be with her a few times since, bringing her notes of sympathy by email from friends that love her in the states and praying with her as more words come.
As my friend and teammate Andrea expressed it – grief feels like a huge block of lead on your heart. Because we are sisters in the Lord I treasure the reality that as part of the same body, God allows me to carry just a small piece of Esowe’s grief in my heart. And I praise God that people have surrounded her to bear her grief alongside her and that she has been gracious to allow God to lift her burdens in those sweet moments through others’ mourning and tears. She told me today that she has been the most overwhelmed by how many people love her and her husband and daughters and how many people have come to pray and become her family and grieve alongside her. Although Esowe, Adam, and Hannah’s grief is unimaginably heavier and larger than the piece I bear, I know that God is big enough to bear her load and I know that she is already leaning so heavy on him.
“Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” Matt:11:28-30
“Bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” Gal. 6:2
Our teammates Brett and April Emerson also had a very bad thing happen on Wednesday. A mechanic who had taken their brand new truck of five weeks for a test drive after repairing it had a very bad accident and drove it off the side of a bridge just outside of town and into a tree. His name is Abalo and he is in the hospital and seems to be doing better today (Friday) than yesterday. He was unconscious much of yesterday but has been coherent today. Their truck was totalled and the pictures from the accident showed one of the worst wrecks I’ve ever seen. It is amazing that the mechanic survived. We were so thankful Brett, April, and Caden were not in the car but losing their long awaited for vehicle with all the cost and thinking of all of those who helped them purchase it makes this a very big loss for their family.
Please pray for the Emerson family and for Brett and April as they await the birth of their second child due at the beginning of December. Pray for strength, courage, and the ability to cling to the Lord for all they need during this difficult time.
Please pray for the mechanic, Abalo, who was driving their car to be healed.
Please pray for Esowe, Adam, Hannah, and Grace as they mourn the loss of their daughter and sister and cling to the Lord for all they need physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Below are pictures of Esowe and her family with Esther Samto just after her birth and also with my daughter, Hannah, holding her.