Last week I went into town and stopped briefly at Barclays ATM to withdraw money as I often do here. I knew I had extra expenses coming up, so it was a fairly large amount-at least in Ugandan terms. After making a few purchases and going back home I discovered a third of the money was gone. Oh, my heart sank! Not really because of the loss of money, but more out of frustration because of my own carelessness as well as because I am super frugal and really hate to waste money. I tried to mentally retrace my steps and figure out what happened. Did I lose it? Did the ATM not dispense all the money? (Someone was impatiently tapping on the door enclosing the ATM when I tried to count, so I hadn’t finished after I withdrew this time.) Then, I began to wonder if it had been stolen.
Sometimes a white person is a target for thieves here because we are viewed as being wealthy, and somehow at that moment my mind settled on this as the most likely option. As soon as I came to this conclusion I began to feel jaded and discouraged, and very soon afterward I could feel my heart start to harden.
Thankfully at this point the Lord began to quietly nudge me, so I came before Him with my frustration and asked Him to exchange it for His perspective. Almost instantly the verses in Matthew 5 that say, “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.” and “Pray for those who spitefully use you” came to mind. And, as is so often the case those verses came to life as they hit my own personal experience.
Then, He reminded me that all I have is His, not mine, and that eternity and knowing Him are what matters. Although it seemed to me His resources were wasted, He comforted me that He knows more than I do, and He is able to use this for His purposes even more than if it had not been lost or stolen. What He spoke next was my favorite part, though, and made this minor trial seem to fade away. He reminded me that I can learn to know Him in a deeper, more mature way by walking with Him through the hard, unjust things. It is often as we surrender these circumstances to Him and trust Him with the consequences that He pours out His comfort on us, and it is this comforting, intimate fellowship with Him that makes the trials worth it. During these times we can EXPERIENCE rather than just read verses like Romans 8:28 where it says, “And we know that all things work together for good [the good of conforming us into the image of Christ (vs 29)] to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
And so, I’m thankful for a loving Father who exchanged a small material loss for spiritual riches. He brings so much hope and life regardless of outward circumstances, and when I look back after a trial and see how faithful He is to mature and grow me it makes me so incredibly thankful to be His child.
Many of you have far harder, more ongoing trials than my tiny one this week. So often I have failed at this same lesson in the past-especially when the trial is not a one-time occurrence, but a daily, almost constant one. May He continue to give us grace to surrender each challenging circumstance to Him, and may we know Him in a deeper way as we walk with Him though the hard things!