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A woman walked up to my house and asked if I would look at her baby. This woman I have known for years. She doesn’t live in our village, but she lives about a two-hour hike away. Over the years we have treated all her children for illnesses at one time or another. She had a newborn with her this time. I had not yet met the baby. She mentioned something was not right with the baby’s eyes. I didn’t quite hear her as I walked closer and expected the baby to have conjunctivitis, a common illness that accompanies colds and ear infections. But as I got to my friend, I realized her baby didn’t have eyes. This sweet baby girl was perfect in every way. Long eyelashes, plump cheeks, full lips, and little rolls on her arms; however, she was born without eyes. The sockets were sunken and empty. I just wanted to grab her up and squeeze her. All I could think of was all the challenges she would face out here without her sight. How would she learn to walk the trails through the jungle? How would she plant a garden? How would she learn to cook over a fire?
Has the Lord made a mistake? Of course not. I can’t understand why she doesn’t have eyes, but I am confident that he formed her beautifully and perfectly according to his will. He has a plan for her life.
A young man was brought here from a hamlet about a five-hour hike away. He had been tied to a pole and carried by his friends down the rough jungle trail because he couldn’t walk here. He has a debilitating disease that began about six months ago. He doesn’t have a hospital bed to lie in, with nurses to care for his needs, or a cleaning staff to make sure his surroundings are cleaned. He doesn’t have a radio to distract him from the long hours of nothingness. He has just been lying in a hut and staring at the fire, listening to the conversations, waiting for some news as to why his body has failed him in this way.
For some reason the Lord has brought this sickness into his life. Is it so that he could come here and have endless hours to listen to our 70+ pre-recorded chronological Bible lessons? God has a plan for his life.
Life is difficult; it is full of hardships and sorrows. Because of Adam’s transgression, we live in a sin-cursed world (Romans 5:12–19) and our bodies groan with pain, disease, and deformities (8:22–23), and the Lord knows them all. But we are also reminded daily that His mercy and kindness is lavished on the unbelieving as well as the believers. I see His mercies, new every morning, how great is his faithfulness to my friends. He has placed them in this beautiful place, given them fertile ground, plenty of food-bearing plants, rain to water the ground, sunshine to warm them, and most of all He has brought the gospel to them so that they can understand and know their Creator, through believing in Jesus’ substitutionary death, His burial, and His Resurrection. They can now be called Yahweh’s children.
Their audible complaints are few compared to mine. More than once I have been struck with the disparity of my own comforts, even in the jungle, compared to my friends. I live side by side with them, and yet it is hard to know completely their suffering. I take for granted so much. I have quick access to online medical resources, I have a nice soft mattress and lots of clean blankets, I have indoor running water, I have indoor plumbing, I have refrigeration and a freezer that make storing food a possibility, I have the entire Word of God in my own language, and thousands of great sermons at my disposal. How is it that I still take for granted my blessings and how is that I can complain or be discontent?
My friends challenge me in my thinking towards being content. My friends challenge me to be constantly aware of God’s grace.
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