A monthly column on purpose, passion and power in Jesus.
As 2017 comes to a close, I’m finding strange comfort in the realisation that I am not the only one who had a tough year.
Last week I could feel myself coming undone — I went through a roller coaster of emotions — from rage at footage sent to CNN that showed people being sold in the, still thriving, slave trade; the threat of democratically elected Mayor Herman Mashaba being ousted out of office; yet another “Junk Status” grading of our economy; and the ongoing fight we as home schooling families have to engage in for the right to educate our children … and that was just some of the things weighing me down.
I can’t describe the range of emotions I felt — like the world was crumbling around me and I was powerless to do anything to stop the injustice of human beings being sold like cattle — powerless to stop the very real impact my family would have to face due to yet another financial downgrade of our economy — what it would mean if we lost our battle as home schooling families and were forced to rules and regulations we felt strongly didn’t allow us to educate our children in the manner we believed to be best for them…
I remember waking up one morning, the inner pressure and turmoil almost unbearable and crying: “God help!”
I realised then that that had been the reason I’d felt terribly overwhelmed and so very overcome by everything around me: I’d stopped crying out to God. Instead I’d allowed the pressures of life to utterly consume me.
As a family 2017 has been a tremendous challenge for us.
We saw most of our savings wiped out — not because of frivolous spending but because of various unexpected challenges that came at us full force.
We had other experiences that seemed to crash over us like angry waves — and yet that morning — when I cried out to God: “Help!” My heart was reminded of how good God truly has been to us this year.
I was reminded of how He’d protected our children from serious illness and grave danger.
I appreciated seemingly simple things like our garden and once more saw how blessed we were to live where we do.
During this moment of renewed perspective, I was confronted with harrowing TV reports of children dying of hunger in places like Haiti but was surprised to learn that right here in South Africa there are children who die of starvation every day.
Independent fact checking organisation, AfricaCheck reports that figures of four children dying of hunger in South Africa daily are grossly underestimated. Meaning that MORE than four children die of hunger in South Africa every day.
I didn’t know that.
That was how far removed I was from true suffering — I honestly didn’t know that we had such insanely high numbers of children dying of hunger — in our own country!
That made me stop whining!
God has remained faithful
Even through what seemed like the darkest days of this year, I now see how God remained faithful through all those times.
If you’ve had a tough year — you’re not alone.
What do we do when everything seems to be falling apart? We cry out to God.
I mentioned the ongoing slave trade earlier — while that is heartbreaking I’ve also met people who are on the frontlines of fighting modern day slavery.
Just the other day I saw the testimony of a missionary in Kenya who bought a young man off the street and adopted him as his own son. That young man is now thriving in a family that loves him and has taught him about the love and grace of Jesus.
In my own community, there is an incredible woman who, along with her husband, has a home for abused and abandoned children. Some of those children were essentially slaves sold by their own parents to support drug habits. But through the love and ministry of this woman and her family the lives of hundreds of children are being restored.
There is always hope
Testimonies like these remind me that no matter how hopeless circumstances seem, there is always hope.
As for everything else I mentioned, I trust God.
Now, more than ever, I believe that those of us who feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges need to remember we have a mighty God and loving Daddy in Heaven. Nothing is impossible for Him.
We have to trust that in Him everything does indeed work together for our good.
I wish you and everyone you love an incredible festive season.