Struggling to live on next-to-nothing, our year in a village near Frosinone was tough. Especially because of the people’s closed and suspicious attitudes toward us. Not that we escaped unnoticed, though! The drug addicts we helped visited often, which is only right. If the needy can’t turn to us, where can they go?
We had no problem with it, but the neighbors?
Either they just didn’t like us, or it bothered them to have the ‘outcasts’ of society around. Either way, they accused: “Those people up there are running a house of prostitution. Throw them out,” they ordered, “or we’ll call the police”. But since the owner only cared about the rent money, we stayed. And our door remained, as it always will be, open to all in need.
It was one of the hardest times of my life.
How could the Lord allow this? I tried to live a godly life, and was only trying to serve him. “Why Lord, why?” I hated stepping out the door, knowing what they were saying about me. “Why Lord, why? I want to leave here. I’m sorry. I tried to serve you, but it’s too hard. I’m sorry.”
But it’s just such times that bring us to a greater level of trust.
“I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” — Charles Spurgeon
In the midst of the storm, we may feel dizzy, weak, or even seasick. All seems dark, our burdens too heavy to bear. But in keeping our eyes on the Lord, we see that he is a strong anchor. We see him coming to us, walking that stormy sea. We feel his presence with us in the rocking boat. And he calms the waves threatening to drown our confused heart. He stills the winds that buffet our doubting mind.
And we soon see that the raging storm is only throwing us against the Rock of Ages.
Things there remained difficult for us. Homesick, and harassed by the people, we often felt abandoned and forgotten. Life was literally a hand-to-mouth existence, often with nothing in the house for the next meal. Yet, we never went without, and never had to turn away those who, oddly enough, always seemed to drop by at lunchtime! (No problem; we were getting to used to watery soup anyway!)
That’s why it astonished me when day one of our regulars said, while opening a bag he’d brought, “This doesn’t get used since my mother passed away, and I thought you might like it”.
For I’d had a wish. And even though it was little one, when it’s hard to buy milk and bread, even tiny wishes seem enormously expensive. So I hadn’t spoken of it to anyone, or even prayed about it.
But sometimes God answers even before we call.
And at times, through the most unlikely candidates. For out of that bag, came the very thing I’d been dreaming of — an electric mixer! Too awestruck to say much, I’m sure I thanked him. But I couldn’t seem to get beyond the idea that God was using a person whose life was in ruins to answer my cry, even before I called.
“Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear,” Isaiah 65:24.
God does hear and answer. He is riding the storm with us. Even though our difficulties and problems don’t always disappear.
And just like our year in that village remained tough, your circumstances may not change. But in ways that we can’t even dream of or imagine, the Lord shows that he is near. And he answers, sometimes even before we call, and in the most unlikely ways!
Isn’t it comforting to know that God hears even our unspoken cries? And that no matter how the storm rages, it’s really only carrying us to him?