Stuck in Suffering

When Jennie asked me to describe a place where I was stuck, a physical house came to mind.

Somewhere in the middle of a village in the Middle East there is a cement house on a street without a name that is filled with memories of grief and hope. In that unlikely place the comforting presence of God became real to me.

Three years ago we moved our family overseas to help plant a church. We never expected the brief time we spent learning the language to rock our worlds like it did.

It was like the stars aligned in Shakespearean style to make our lives miserable. Our 18-month-old daughter settled into full-blown culture shock and her cheerful personality wilted like a cut rose.

I was no different. I entered the second trimester of pregnancy and instead of feeling better physically I began to feel nauseous and weak. I didn’t go outside for fear of gawking neighbors and the flies and the smell. The house was next to a dumpster where people discarded animal carcasses from the sacrifices they conducted. I could barely read the language much less speak it. I missed my friends, our teammates were delayed, and God seemed so distant.

Then my husband’s arms, which had recently undergone major surgery, got worse. Dave could no longer lift a metal fork to eat, button his shirt, or pick up his Bible. His arms felt like they were on fire. I begged God for relief in our circumstances, and it didn’t come.

I remember lying awake in bed watching Dave pace the floor in agonizing pain. The thought occurred to me that we had made a big mistake.

Then the Holy Spirit spoke in my mind Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?”

God wanted me to remember that my hope was not in how I could control my circumstances, the strength of my body, or my spiritual discipline. God, in His kindness, wanted to show me that my hope lay solely in the never-quitting zeal of the grace of Jesus Christ.

I didn’t get un-stuck that night… it took some time. But there in the midst of the darkness, my heart caught a glimpse of the gospel. And I knew that God had not abandoned me.

Gloria is from all over the US (mostly Texas). She and Dave have three real kiddos (Aliza, Norah and Judson) who befriended two imaginary children. Gloria enjoys serving the ladies in her community as a doula and thinks pumpkins belong in everything edible including lattes. She also blogs atDomestic Kingdom, a blog about applying the gospel to the mundane.

Jennie AllenComment