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Finding Him in the Struggles

Posted by David and Rebecca Ortiz
David and Rebecca Ortiz
David and Rebecca Ortiz have moved from San Antonio, Texas to Paraguay to join the Lord in what He is already ...
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on Tuesday, 17 June 2014 in Uncategorized

Finding Him in the Struggles

When we get ready to send a ministry update, we usually like to share stories about all we see God doing and maybe even a funny story about our adaptation to a different culture. But as I was praying this time about what God would have us share about the past three months, images flooded my mind about all the trials and challenges we’ve faced and the just plain bad days. Then the immediate follow-up thought was…they don’t want to hear this Lord. They want to hear something that will uplift and encourage them. And God’s resounding answer was, “Share about the struggles. I’m in the difficulties too. Even when you can’t see it.”
 
Now it might be helpful to know I had been reading from Job 33:12-30 that morning and as God taught me from his word I can also say, nothing we have experienced even comes close to the suffering Job endured. But nonetheless God used this chapter to remind me of several things:

  • God always answers, even when we don’t recognize it.
  • God may choose to speak to us to keep us from heading in a certain direction.
  • God may speak to us through pain.
  • God might need to bring us to our knees in prayer so that we will sing his praises and give testimony about all he has done in us.
  • God is constantly pulling our souls back from destruction, so we will see and live in the light.

Over a period of just two days we were shocked to learn that someone close to us had been mugged and a neighborhood family suffered a home break-in that resulted in the loss of a loved one. Our first thoughts were, “God why did we come and bring our family here?” And then we heard that still small voice that reminded us that He had brought us here…it wasn’t by our choice. And when has God ever brought anyone anywhere without going with them? Does this mean that God promises us the road will be easy and that we will always walk in safety and never experience pain? Clearly not—just look at the life of Job. The question we ask God is not “will you be there?” To quote a book I finished recently,  “We know, deep down, that the Father loves us and will take care of us—but we want to settle for much less. We want the form of protection to be our way—according to our shortsighted desire to avoid pain—rather than his way. And he has the welfare of the whole universe in his plan. What our flesh feels—what our heart says to us when it’s breaking—is usually about the pain, rather than God’s plan for the human race.” (Craig Parshall in Custody of the State)
 
In the past three months, we’ve:

  • Shared our faith with people in our neighborhood yet not seen any response
  • Shared one-verse evangelism with the residents at the hospital, only to receive silence afterwards
  • Invested in relationships with ladies only to have them stop responding to our communication attempts
  • Looked to be part of a life group where we can learn what will work culturally here in Paraguay, only to be frustrated that nothing looks quite like the ideal of everyone (including kids) coming together and sharing a hymn, a word of instruction, a revelation, etc. (1 Cor 14:26)
  • Met new families and shared about Jesus only to learn that their interest in anything spiritual only extends as far as it would be of educational benefit to their children

So how do we wade through all of these things and not getting bogged down in discouragement? To be honest, some days we don’t. Some days are very hard and we fall way short of being filled with anything remotely looking like the joy that God gives us. But that is why God bothered to fill scripture with words that speak to the heart of the matter. You see, nothing we are experiencing is new. The trials and frustrations we face are not that different from what you face in your week. There is this common misconception that it takes a special breed of Christian to be called to missions or overseas ministry, but the reality is that we are just as broken as the rest of the sinners that God has redeemed. We struggle to see how to share our faith, worry about the futures of our children, try our best not to disappoint our spouses, and wage the battle with demanding schedules so full that we wonder where does God have time to fit into the picture, much less be the center of it. Yet despite the discouraging days, we will press on because we know that our struggle is common to those who say yes to Jesus and his promises to us all are worth holding onto. Let us all be encouraged by Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4 (The Message paraphrase)…
 
“Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves [or those around us]. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.”
 
“If our Message is obscure to anyone, it’s not because we’re holding back in any way. No, it’s because these other people are looking or going the wrong way and refuse to give it serious attention”…”Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are his messengers, errand runners from Jesus”…”If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that”…
 
”So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”
 
Thank you for your faithful support, for coming along side us in prayer—continuing to stand in the gap for the people of Paraguay. Pray with us that God would bring about revival here and that there would be no place for evil to reside in the hearts of men, because they would be so full of His Holy Spirit.
 
God continues to open doors for new relationships and is making inroads as we meet people in the midst of their hurt and pain. Pray that the veil of deceit would be lifted and people would see and believe that Jesus truly is the only answer.

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