I’m writing this while listening to Joe Portale share about pioneering YWAM ministries in West Africa. Joe and Judi, his wife, joined YWAM in 1969 and pioneered in the Sahara Desert in 1975. His book, “Taking On Giants,” is a great encouragement in perseverance and faith. One of the things he just shared was learning to see “delays” as God’s way of stopping his outreach team to discover new ministry opportunities and people to love. He shared about 86 vehicle stoppages and breakdowns and sharing the gospel throughout the Sahara because of such “delays.” One such delay involved a girl awaking a hive of African killer bees while finding a place to go to the bathroom behind a tree. She suffered over 80 stings, another girl over 40, and another who was allergic to bees suffered 12. The one who suffered 80 stings said she couldn’t breathe, her eyes rolled back into her head, and she passed out. Joe shared how he never felt more alone. “I had no idea what to do, but I suddenly thought, I must pray. I also thought I can’t mess up this prayer.
God reminded me of Philippians 4:6-7, so I began to thank God. I thanked him for the creation, the trees, and even for the bees. As i did this, I had something happen inside that I cannot explain. I had something groan from within my heart and I prayed it out. “As I prayed, a truck drove up (we hadn’t seen one for hours), and he was an emergency response person and he had injections for this. He had three of them and gave them to the three girls who had the most stings, even saying that it was too late for the girl with 80 stings. Because of this miraculous provision (the guy suddenly appeared and then drove away immediately after giving the injections and they never saw or heard from him again), all three were saved.
No matter how dark the situation is that we face, we will always find our hope in Christ. The answers may not be instantaneously gratifying, but we can always trust God to be true to His character of love, grace, and redemption.
The Christmas season is a time to celebrate God’s amazing plan to become one of us so that we can all be reunited with Him. However, there are many of us who struggle in seasons like Christmas because we face depression, difficult memories of losing loved ones during the season, or other hardships that aren’t easily explained away by scriptures like “All things work together for good….” Romans 8:28. It’s in times like these where I find that difficult to read Psalms like Psalm 88 are comforting.
O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out to you by day. I come to you at night. Now hear my prayer; listen to my cry. For my life is full of troubles, and death draws near. I am as good as dead, like a strong man with no strength left. … Your anger weighs me down; … 9. My eyes are blinded by my tears. … O Lord, I cry out to you. I will keep on pleading day by day. … You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend
What amazes me about a Psalm like this is that it is in the inspired Word of God. God knows how frail we are and He is not scared to let us know that all is not perfect and that it is okay for us to feel as though all is falling apart. He would rather us pour out our pain and fears to him than hold them in. This is a worship song, yet it never resolves with a “happy clappy” ending. It is a song of great despondency from start to finish. Sometimes you and I don’t feel like praising God, and He always knows our hearts, but He loves it when we trust him enough to tell him exactly how we feel. It is no different than how I, as a parent, would rather my children yell at me than go to their rooms, shut their doors, sulk, and tell me nothing. God gives us permission with Psalms like this one to share even the most accusatory feelings and pains. He wants intimacy with us so much that He can take these deep heart cries and see them redeemed. He truly is the God of our salvation and will prove it time and time again. He can take our biggest punches and see us restored to the joy of our salvation again. Please don’t be scared to share with God the heights and the depths of your soul this Christmas season.
Please be in prayer for the many couples who have joined our work for families. Not only do they have to raise funds to serve in this way, but they also come under spiritual attack as they rise up to see families made whole. Examples of this include one families adult son who became homeless and has disappeared. Another family has a teenage son deep in depression. Also, our staff from Chico, California had many friends and family members lose much in the fires. Please join us in praying for Family DTS, Family DTS staff, and to see the finances needed to make the new programs possible.