March 23, 2017
“Mom, what do we do? Do we keep thinking about them or do we try to forget?”
I look over at my oldest son and take a moment to gather my thoughts before responding.
I had arrived home in the early morning hours of Saturday, March 18, but although I had been travelling for 24 hours already, with only a few winks of sleep on the airplane, I couldn’t go straight to sleep. Instead, in the quiet stillness of our empty house I wandered around aimlessly. I had just come home from my first-ever short-term mission trip and suddenly I felt lost and confused.
What had particularly shaken me was when we had stopped to visit Anoud and Denise and their kids. In the seven years they had lived on our property in Haiti, they had become like family to us. Prior to us leaving Haiti, I had spent a lot of time worrying and praying about what would happen to them when we left and during that time I kept feeling like God was wanting me to give it over to Him, yet I struggled. Finally, it was time to leave and I had no other choice but to let them go.
When Jason returned to Haiti a few months later, I had the opportunity to video call with Denise and I was so thankful to see how well they were doing. Anoud had kept his job working at the house we lived in, and Denise had found new work and everyone was happy and healthy. Jason actually visited their new home and it was fun to see our old pictures hanging on their walls, and their kids playing with toys our boys had given them. Nicholas, their ten-year old son, proudly showed off a pair of roller skates he had gotten and was even whizzing around their house in them.
Now, almost 2 years later, things were a little different. Anoud, through circumstances beyond his control, had lost his job, and Denise was only working a few days a month. When Jason and I stopped in for a visit, we found them both home, including their youngest daughter, who was laying limply on a bed because she didn’t have the strength to go to school because she hadn’t eaten.
Everything they once had, other than a few bare necessities had been sold for food, and the only food left in the whole house was a limp bunch of green onion. The paintings and pictures on the walls were gone, the toys were gone, the fans they used to own, even the blankets and pillows on their bed had all been sold. It was heartbreaking to see.
We had come with a huge food basket and ended up giving them money too, but it felt like only a temporary solution, as what they really wanted was work so they could provide for their family.
I honestly didn’t know how to respond and the one overwhelming feeling that kept boiling up inside was dismay.
Suddenly I felt shaken.
The word ‘shaken’ made me think of a song I sometimes listened to where one of the lyrics was We won’t be shaken.
I always had felt a little hesitant singing that song because it made me think of the words of Peter in Mark 14:29. But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. And we know how that turned out for him. Before the night was over he had denied Jesus three times.
But then, where did those words come from? I wondered. I found my answer in the book of Psalms.
I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Psalm 16:8
He only is my rock and my salvation: He is my defense; I shall not be moved. Psalm 62:6
Reading those verses helped my understanding to grow. If we take our eyes off of God and instead focus on the circumstances around us we can quickly become dismayed and feel shaken. Peter was literally walking on water, but the moment he took his eyes off Jesus he became afraid and began to sink. Matthew 14:22-33 So to keep from being shaken we need to set the Lord always before us.
So we know we need to look to God and trust Him, but the Bible also tells us we need to love and care for our neighbor. Mark 12:31b says: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, and Phil 2:4 says: Look not every man on his own things (interests), but every man also on the things of others.
My struggle however, was not my unwillingness to love or help, but rather with knowing how to help in the best way. I am so quick to come up with solutions and try desperately to control the outcome that I soon find myself stepping into God’s place. God warns about this in Isaiah 45:5a I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me:
I might stand alone on this, but I think often we make things so difficult for ourselves. Did you know that God has already before ordained the good works we are to do?
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
And how are we to know what they are?
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct Thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 1 Peter 5:7
For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. Psalm 50:10
After much prayer and giving over my burden of worry about Anoud and Denise and their family over to God, I felt Him directing me to message a friend regarding employment for them.
Silly me, was still surprised when she responded in the affirmative.
And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? (Jesus) Matthew 8:26
And now, after a week of struggling and praying and learning and turning to God for direction I have the answers to my son’s questions.
“We don’t need to try to forget them, or have that burden pressing down on our hearts. Jesus tells us to come to Him and give Him our burdens.”
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29
“And then as we pray and give our burdens to Him, He will teach us, and direct us, and show us, how to love our neighbours as ourselves and how to not only look out for our own interests but also the interests of others."