Life is full of ups and downs as you all know. I, myself, tend to dwell on the downs, getting easily discouraged and focusing on obstacles rather than opportunities. Being in Haiti has magnified this problem, as there are so many challenges and daily struggles. Everything here is so much more complicated and takes five more steps than it would back at home.
Recently I realized how negative my thoughts have been, and how much I was dwelling on how tough things are and how much I missed everything back at home. Then one morning I got a bit of a wake-up call. I was reading the book of Numbers in my Bible. The Israelites were traveling through the wilderness to the promised land. God had led their every step, and was providing for all their needs. Yes things were tough and uncomfortable, but God was with them and never left their side. The Israelites began complaining to the Lord about their “hardships.” As I was reading, I could completely insert the thoughts I’d been having about Haiti into the text:
Numbers 11:4 – Haiti version
“Oh, for some meat. I remember all the great hamburgers we used to eat in Minnesota. We had all the pickles, onions, French fries, and soda that we wanted. But now our appetites are gone and day after day we have nothing to eat but these rice and beans… I wish I had stayed in the United States…”
The chapter goes on, and I easily continued to insert my own thoughts about Haiti into the story. Well, if you know what happened next, God was not happy. It says that when He heard them, “his anger blazed against them.” Fire from the Lord raged among them and destroyed their camp. God does not like complaining.
So then I thought, well, how do I stop complaining and thinking about the negative? My situation is not going to change any time soon, but my attitude needs to! I remembered the book Robinson Crusoe, where a man is stranded on a deserted island with little to no hope of rescue. He decided that instead of falling into the trap of self-pity, he would force himself to look for the positive side of his situation and make the most of it. So he made a list of every negative, bad, complaining thought that he had, and then on the opposite side of the paper, he wrote down the positive side of the situation. So I tried that:
- I miss going out to eat at my favorite restaurants … At least I have food to eat and even a cook to make it for me!
- I miss my family and friends … At least I can talk to them on the phone and connect through email. Also, there are many new people here to make friends with, and they are taking care of us as though we are family.
- It’s just plain hard to be here doing what we’re doing … Jesus said that if we truly want to follow him, we must take up our crosses. His cause will involve suffering and discomfort. But what an honor it is then to be here “suffering” for Christ.
I’m sorry that this blog is long, but I hope it can encourage anyone who is feeling down or in a rough spot in life. Try to focus on the positive, thanking God for what you do have, rather than grumbling about what’s difficult. I’m not saying that everything will be easy all the sudden, but maybe a little more bearable. Here’s a little song that is also helpful: