Eight weeks after we arrived here, when life felt a little like we were finally settling into pleasant places and we were trying to remember to find our “pleasant inns” wherever we could (CS Lewis), a friend told me that there was another (possible) wave of discontent or frustration that most people go through. I knew it would come eventually, but determined to ride the wave and be thankful for as long as we could. It a rrived and stayed a little longer than I would have liked.
When I ask people who have been here a number of years how they like it here, there is always a pregnant pause, “Well, life here is hard, but I like the [people, lifestyle, or maybe traveling].” Not a single person has responded that they like or love it here. When we first arrived, I found this less than hopeful for the future.
Throughout the last six months, God has been speaking to me about just that: hope. But in my case, it has been lack of it. Before I left, a friend exhorted me to choose joy as often as I could. I have thought about that a lot since then, and tried hard to seek it, but as wave after wave of difficulty set in, I realized that joy was not what I was missing.
Many of you have shared my life these past 7 years, and so you’ve heard much of my struggles, sometimes outright complaints, along with a few victories. Several years ago, when Dave and Eric preached about Caleb’s whole-hearted faith, Ruth’s loyalty, Daniel’s faith and more, God breathed the promise of healing and future victories into those struggles. Yet, healing for us all has been slow, in my economy.
As we were called to move here to Egypt, over and over the image of the Red Sea was planted in my heart, through songs I would hear on the radio, a book we were given, or scriptures poignantly timed. Listening to the radio one day, I heard a song by Ellie Holcomb that spoke into my heart, but I didn’t know the title (I later discovered that it was called “Find You Here” – also a great song) to search for it on YouTube. Instead of finding the song I was looking for though, the song that came up was “Red Sea Road”.
Her words, “We will sing to our souls, we won’t bury our hope, where you lead us to go, down a Red Sea Road,” only just recently sank in. I have been focusing on the road to the Red Sea, thinking of the suffering we had to do to get there—the suffering we’d been doing for 10 years now! What I’d missed, and couldn’t see until recently, was that part about hope.
As usually happens, when God is trying to get me to see something, He repeats it to me in various ways. After hearing a sermon about the hope of Naomi, this message began to convict my heart. In the battles, in the heartbreaks, in the “no’s” of our answered prayers, I had lost hope. I no longer though that God would bring me good. I expected the bad, the difficult, the frustrating, because well, the last few months in particular have been so very hard. And we have a history of hard that even counting thousands upon thousands of gifts over the last few years had not been able to overcome (Ann Voscamp One Thousand Gifts). Recently as I listened to Ellie Holcomb’s song again, and I realized that I had indeed buried my hope!
I saw myself as Naomi, the bitter one, who no longer expected God to do good things for her. And yet, the thing about Naomi is that she had Ruth. Ruth stuck with her, even when they had nothing. Ruth loved her, encouraged her, and above all, Ruth obeyed God. And Naomi. She trusted them both and in the end because of Ruth’s obedience, love and faith in God, Naomi turned from being called bitter, to being the blessed one. And while their existence on this earth may have been hard for awhile, God brought forth Salvation through them both.
I have shared so many negatives in my life with you all, and you have loved and supported me through much. It seems only right that now you should walk with us as God brings His promised healing.
Because I am homeschooling the girls and taking a writing class online, I probably won’t write often, but I will continue to share some thoughts about Egypt, our journey and our lives here. It is a fascinating place and I think you might enjoy some of our adventures (and perhaps we can inspire you to come and visit!). I also want to share a bit of my spiritual journey with those of you who have been there with us for hard stuff, to see the result of God’s work in all of us. Friends, you are my Ruths! You have loved me, inspired me, helped me to be brave and encouraged me to be obedient. Because of you, your prayers, and the reminder that the Red Sea Road, while it winds through a desert, ends in a miracle (and a promise fulfilled), I have hope again. For,
“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14