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Joy in the Midst of Sorrow

            I would like to start with coming together with you all to say, “Our God is an Awesome God!” “I exalt His Name on High.” “He is my Redeemer, Savior, Friend, Lover, Groom, Father, and Helper.” “Our God is worthy to be praised!”

            Coming back from the Koren tribe (the mountain village) was harder than I expected to come into the city. The atmosphere of Chaing Mai could easily be described as empty; so empty it felt painfully oppressive. The Koren tribe (unexpectedly) was a Christian Village. They have church every Sunday and the children are raised in Christian families. For the 12 of us that went, it was a breath of fresh air, literally along with metaphorically. The rain forest is beautiful, the air was clean, and the stars were stunning. It was a blessing to see light in the eyes of the people again, rather than emptiness. The house we staying in welcomed us with open arms, loving us as one of their own.

            Now back in Chaing Mai, I see the men using woman, not only for their desires but to get money. There was one woman sitting alongside the street asking for money with her child. I gave her a few cents. I started to walk away, then turned around and decided to ask if I could pray over her. When I asked, a white man nearby looked at her, anger very obviously displayed in his expression, and shook his head no. Looking scarred, she looked back at me and shook her head no. I was devastated to see how enslaved she was; to see how her freedom had been taken away to the point where she obeys as if she were a dog. Just as I was sharing with my teammate how I was feeling, we walked past a stand selling speakers. To our surprise, a worship song was playing! We asked the boy (around our age) if it was his music and he replied yes. We said, “we love this music!” He replied, “I love Jesus!” This is just one example of how throughout this trip God has restored my hope, joy and peace just as I needed it.

            During this trip there have been some specific areas that God has been working in me and teaching me. Some are simple things that I already have learned, but am learning to apply to my life more specifically; others are new revelations that may seem a little radical.

One: Fear is not of God. Many, if not all, of my negative emotions and actions are derived from a root of fear. By looking for this root, I can work through much of my sinful nature by cutting it off at the root.

Two: I do not always have to be strong. At first here in Thailand, I felt as if I was being a different person. As I went along, I learned that God is just revealing to me a new side of myself that I never knew about. I should not only just depend on him, but also trust and depend on those in the Body of Christ around me.

Three: Continual worship and praise is necessary in the life of every believer that desires to live close to God. Though there may be times where it seems like there is only pain, God is still deserving of our worship and praise. If we act on this, he blesses us with peace and joy and the strength to get through.

Four: If we are focused on God, we will only see good. This is my most recent discovery and most radical. Though I am still looking into the bible to make sure that this is biblical, God has been affirming it all day every day. Though we might be in the midst of something hard, filled with pain and strife, we do not have to see the bad. God only works for the good of those who love him, and even in difficult circumstances, He is working for good. If our focus is on the circumstance, we will see suffering and feel pain; however, if our focus is on God we will see the good he is doing despite it all. I think back and remember Jesus walking on the water and Peter walking out to Him. When Peter was focused on Jesus, he was fine even with the waves crashing on the sides of him. As soon as Peter switched his focus from Jesus, he was filled with fear and started to sink.

            Praise the Lord that though the girls and men here are entangled in webs of sin, there is hope! Therefore, I can be filled with Joy, Peace, Worship, Praise, and thankfulness. Thank you for listening to all I have had to say. This is my first post here, so I apologize if it was a bit long. I have been very excited to share with everyone about my experiences, but am just now feeling very led to share. Other postings I have written before this are on my blog at: https://sites.google.com/site/tothailandigo/home

 

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