Several nights ago a howling wind, driving rain and lightning reminiscent of U2’s Vertigo concert filled the sky. I tried with all my might, but could not fall asleep. As I listened to the rain drops pound down I could not get God’s goodness out of my mind. His goodness in bringing rain to Las Moras.
Living here, among the Nahuatl people we have begun to see glimpses of the hardships they suffer when there is no rain. Their corn crop has no water, begins to dry up, and does not produce corn. If their corn does not grow, they will have little to eat. The Nahuatl people subsist on tortillas mostly, made from corn that they grow themselves, and when they have extra money, they will buy beans. Some people grow a few vegetables or beans near their homes, but not many. To stay alive they depend on the rains…and yet they do not know the One created the clouds, and who’s hand tilts the water jars of heaven.
Two Sundays ago our team listened to a sermon together about God’s goodness. The speaker had some profound examples that got me thinking about my own perception of God, and His goodness. Actually, more than my perception, but rather how often I forget about His goodness.
In my last post I wrote about how confused and frustrated we often feel as we grope about, reaching for words, trying to speak our 3rd language to people who live in such a different world and culture from us that we feel they must often think that we are crazy. In fact, one of the most common questions our Nahuatl friends as us is “Are you guys comfortable living here?” Ha…I laugh, if they only knew how uncomfortable at times that we feel. But, I think that feeling of being uncomfortable doesn’t necessarily come from actually being “uncomfortable.” Our house here in Las Moras is rustic, but very comfortable, much more comfortable than anything the Nahuatl have ever seen. I believe our feeling of uncomfortability comes from forgetting how good our God is.
With this topic swirling in my mind, I turned to the book of Job. Job went through it. Bad things happened, precious things were taken from Job, and yet he served the Lord. He was tempted to turn his back on God many times, he was even tempted by his own friends and family to forsake God, and yet in all the hardship he persevered. Towards the end of the book of Job in chapters 30 and 31 Job is pleading his case, reminding people and God of who he was how he’d always served God and done what God had asked, he was beginning to have a pity party of arrogance so to speak. He’d done the right thing…now where was God.
Then in chapter 38 God begins to challenge Job “Who is this man who questions my wisdom, with his ignorance? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you that you must answer.” Job 38:2,3 God goes on to remind Job who He is, His creation of the world, and His power over all of nature. His ability to rise the sun, and set it in the evening, to control the rain, floods, lightning, thunder, the seasons, and the laws of the universe that He has written. His knowledge of the number of clouds He has created and His great hand that holds the water jars of heaven deciding when to send the rain. And of course, His goodness regardless of the hardship that Job was suffering. God never left Job, and even in hard things, God was good, and is good.
Right now we are right in the middle of rainy season here in Las Moras. We have planned to be here without a supply run, studying language, and building relationships full time until late October. And there are days that are hard. There are days when I can’t get a word out of my mouth that is right and I feel like my Nahuatl friends would rather visit with anyone else at that moment than me. There are days when I’m tired, and an iced coffee and chat on the porch with Mom seems like just the thing…except she’s 50 hours away. There are days when I study verbs in Nahuatl with all their affixes, and suffixes, and prefixes, and mid-fixes, and who-knows-fixes and I want to quit. I want to say God this is hard, why didn’t you chose someone other than me to go through this thing, to learn this language, to love these people, because God, I’m just not that great at it. And you know what God, we haven’t had tomatoes in two weeks, and now we are out of carrots…things just aren’t the same without carrots.
These things are not nearly as severe as what Job suffered, but in Pete and I’s lives they are realities. They are things that can pull us down, and discourage us from the race God has set before us. They are the things that can take our eyes off the Nahuatl people’s need for a Savior. Their need for truth, and lives free of fear.
As I read the last few chapters in the book of Job I was reminded of how I overlook who God is and how good He is to me. He has brought us gallons of rain, so that we no longer have to spend 3 hours a week or more hauling water. Last Sunday, He unexpectedly brought the vegetable vendor to town and we were able to re-stock with fresh veggies, fruit, and eggs. He continually provides for every single financial need, month after month. He provides us with working internet, so even though I can’t have the porch chat, I can still make an iced coffee and sip on it while I send my Mom and email. God continually gives us opportunities to practice language and love people, and on top of that, He gives us the energy to do it every.single.day.
So, how do I so easily forget His goodness?
This week I challenge you, when that bad day hits, or whatever it is that you are going through that makes you feel like God has abandoned you, or is working over time for someone else. Read Job 38-42, and be humbled, as I was, of the Lord’s blessings all around you even in the things that seem the hardest to bear.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6