Saturday, April 25, 2015


It’s a normal Saturday for Esther in Uganda: laundry, pancakes, Institute homework, thinking about trying to catch up on emails. The day always flies by too fast.

I went outside to get Internet and check to see if my new laptop had arrived at its Stateside destination for a returning staff member to bring it to Uganda early next week. And that’s when it happened.

As I checked Facebook, I found out about a major earthquake earlier in the day, outside of Kathmandu, Nepal. A friend who was awakened by an early morning call from her son to let her know he and his family were ok. A post from a non-profit in the midst of building competitions and Stateside concerns.

And I had just posted about being annoyed that mosquitoes were biting me because I had forgotten to apply bug spray before going outside.

A minor inconvenience to the trauma and tragedy hundreds of thousands of people are dealing with right now in Nepal. The death toll, already nearing 900, will undoubtedly rise. People, many injured, are/were scared to go back inside because aftershocks continue rocking the buildings.

Somehow, this time it’s sinking in further. So often, it’s easy to read about disasters and just go about my life. But today, it hit home. As I went back inside, thinking about how to spend the rest of my day, the incongruity and unfairness of it all swept over me.

This moment, there are probably people trapped in collapsed buildings, fighting for their lives. There are thousands whose homes were destroyed, who will spend the night outside in the cold. And I was debating what to have for dinner and whether or not to watch a movie.


It is only by the Lord’s mercy that I am not suffering the same (Lamentations 3:22). That I am instead enjoying innumerable comforts I still take for granted and resent when I don’t have, even here in the bush of Uganda. Why them? Why not me? Why suffering?

We were talking about the sovereignty of God and the role of Satan in class last week. And then this morning, hours before I became aware of all this, I read the part of Romans 9 talking about how God prepares some for destruction and some for mercy (vs. 14-29).

God could have prevented this earthquake. He could have prevented all earthquakes, all natural disasters. But He chooses not to – and the reason is always His plan and His glory. Because He takes things meant for evil and turns them into good. My brain can’t comprehend that, because for those hundreds and hundreds of people who died it doesn’t seem like there can be ANY good in it. But God knows. God loved and cared about every single one of those people, each one as a unique and special creation of His.

It blows my mind to try and think about this. Which is why God is the one in charge and not me! And I am so thankful He is. As I sat on my bed trying to digest the discrepancy between my “challenges” and the life-and-death situation of my fellow humanity right now in Nepal, the tears came. How could I go on about my normal life in the face of this disaster?

Thoughts and ideas flitted through my mind, but the problem is so beyond anything I can really do to affect it. Even prayer feels so small and helpless when looking at things from the perspective of thousands wounded and/or homeless. But prayer is the tool God has given us – and so I prayed. And I will keep on praying. Won’t you join me?

Thankfully, God also uses organizations and individuals to do things both small and big which can help alleviate the hardship of some of these survivors in the coming days and weeks. And just as it is the thought of the individuals who died which makes this feel so overwhelming, so it is the thought of the individuals who will be helped and sustained which brings hope and comfort.

Please pray for Nepal. And please give to help with the relief efforts which will be taking place. Samaritan’s Purse is one organization. I know there are others as well. Don’t forget our fellow humanity in Nepal tomorrow, next week, even in the coming months. They will still need your prayers and support.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Trusting God, Once Again

On Friday afternoon, I received two pieces of news: one that I had assumed for months was coming eventually and one that caught me totally off guard. The latter was the conclusion of several weeks of my choices in interactions with others. I should probably have been expecting things to come to the point that they did. But I was being optimistic and so wasn’t considering the potential “worst” outcome. The news left me hurting and a bit shaken.

This week in Institute class has been all about “Veritas,” a Bible study method. As I moved about our office block, trying to let the news sink in and trying to adjust to the new reality thrust upon me, a verse we had been looking at just before lunch came back to mind: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace” (Col. 3:15).

“All right, God,” I prayed, “This situation is what You have allowed to happen. And You have called me to peace. Please teach my heart to trust You and rest in peace today, right now.” And He did! I went about finishing my day in the office, and on my way home talked to my mentor a bit about it all, since she’d been walking with me through the situation the past month.

Last night, some of the young people put on a concert. In the greeting and fellowshipping afterward, God allowed me to have a special interaction with a friend. It gave me a glimpse of good things He is doing through the situation, even though part of the outcome is not what I would have chosen.

As I continued thinking about it back at my house, I was reminded that peace is not “everything going my way” – and trust is likewise not “God doing things my way.” Peace and trust are both choosing to rest in God’s goodness, knowing that He loves everyone involved so much more than I do! And that He is working out His plan, even when to my human view it seems like things are falling apart rather than being renewed. As my mentor reminded me, “sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better.” And God is the one directing that process in light of His sovereignty and omniscience! That is where hope and peace and trust find their truest, deepest roots.

This morning, I woke up earlier than I intended to—so even after spending a chunk of time directly in God’s Word it was too early to get ready and go to church. I thought about writing this post, but was feeling a bit under the weather so didn’t want to yet. I ended up deciding to pull out my Kindle version of a women’s devotional, because I remembered I had one more chapter I hadn’t read yet.

Guess what it was about??? Yep, trusting God. I took one look at the title (“Does God Deserve Our Trust?”) and almost laughed. Several things in the chapter—discussing trying to put God in a box, and God as the Potter from Romans 9, for example—have been on my mind already the past year-plus. So many good quotes I could put in here from this chapter! But here’s just a couple:

“The reality is that we often don’t want to trust God until we’ve tried to fix the problem ourselves first….We really don’t give God a second thought until something big comes up” (pg. 153).

“I believe that sometimes we are a little cautious about trusting God because we’re afraid of what He may bring into our lives in order to teach us something or to test us” (pg. 155).

“Does trusting God mean that everything will work out just the way we want it to and that we’ll live happily ever after? No, it doesn’t. That’s a God-box…..Whether you trust God with your life does not change the fact that you still really have no control over your circumstances” (pg. 158).

The authors (Beverly LaHaye and her daughter Lori Scheck) went on to talk about how we must have both a proper view of ourselves and a proper view of God if we are to grow in our trust for Him. It was all such a good reminder, especially in light of everything this weekend! Praise the Lord for His leading and timing :)

So there are no easy answers. I still wish, and I am still tempted to hope, that things turn out differently in the situation that instigated this whole post. But God is using these circumstances that are mostly out of my control to remind me of what trust really means: Resting in His plan, not because it is the same as mine but because He is good.

To God be the glory.

The quotes come from the last chapter of A Woman and Her God, edited by Beth Moore.