These are trying times — for all of us. Trying times affect everyone differently.
I told my staff at a recent meeting that I needed them to know something about me. My reaction to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic may look much different from some, because I spent over twenty years of my life in the Middle East and Africa. I’ve lived with death and disease and developed my own coping habits to deal with them. That said, I affirmed my desire to be empathetic to their concerns. I needed them to know I was there for them.
Missionaries and cross-cultural workers see the world in different ways than people who have never traveled from their homeland, whether they’re Americans or the nationals they serve.
Living among another culture changes you.
What I discovered, however, was that it made me less empathetic toward my “own people,” and I knew that was not pleasing to the God I claim to serve.
One of the greatest lessons I learned in cross-cultural service was this:
In every desert of trial, God gives an oasis of comfort.
I’ve been through trials; some, from living in difficult places, some of my own making. I’ve wandered in the darkness wondering if I’d ever see the light again.
Whether you’re living in a physical desert or a spiritual one, God provides his oases of rest and comfort. Many missionaries, right this moment, are living through a desert of trial which is simply compounded by the pandemic. We may think the opportunity to come stateside is an oasis, but for them, “home” is the desert. They’re grieving the loss of purpose, relationships, “adopted” home, and closure.
What oasis can bring comfort? A listening ear, compassion and support, practical help and prayer.
However, even if you’re not an “overseas” missionary, as a believer in Christ, you are on mission wherever he’s planted you in this season of life. Your isolation during this pandemic may be your desert of trial.
Find comfort in the oases God provides through his Word, the voice of a brother or sister in Christ, and even an opportunity to serve someone else.
God may be asking you to be the person who draws the water from the well for a fellow weary traveler today. Don’t miss out on being part of his blessing in their life.
You’ll be blessed too.
Grace and Peace