Greetings from the East…
Two to three months ago, the world was thinking about China and praying for us. Today my heart and prayers, and those of believers here, are focused on you in the West, and the rest of the world. It’s been an unsettling time facing COVID-19, but I want to take a moment to share as things start to look a little brighter here.
I have been in China during this entire outbreak. I’ve spent a lot of time meeting virtually. Typically I try to use some humour in this journey, so I told myself (when I was self-isolating to reduce risk), “Hey, self! You’re at a 5-star SPA! You can do whatever you want! (Well, except go out.)” I tried to focus on what I could control. Do I want to read or do an exercise video? Paint my nails or bake some cookies. But my good days are the days I reach out to someone else, to listen and encourage.
For me, this is not the first time I’ve faced difficulty. Almost 10 years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I saw many of you right after my diagnosis – that day shattered my feeling of safety. Ten years later, I still see the pain of losing my feeling of safety, but I also see how God taught me that He is always providing for me, and that His love was deeper than the pain and fear in my life.
Then and now, my pain pushes me to ask God deep questions. Hard questions. “Is God good?” “Is God out to destroy me (and for no good reason?!?)?” I’ve grown up in church, and have loved Jesus from a very young age. And I quickly said, “God is good, and no, of course God’s plan is not to destroy me.” But friends, it sure FELT like it. I had many dark, wobbly days. But today, I can tell you that God transformed my character through the darkness. One small example is that I used to get very upset about small things–like being clumsy and breaking a coffee cup. (I actually have broken FOUR during these 2 months.) I used to call myself stupid, totally careless, and a bad person for making that mistake. Today, I can extend grace to myself for my mistakes (small ones, and some not so small). A huge blessing… from God… but it came through a painful season in my life.
I don’t know what God is doing through this season where the world is being impacted by the spread of this disease. That is a hard question. And yet, I can already see the seeds of growth sprouting here. More people have placed their trust in Jesus. Some doctors have gone to where the disease is spreading the worst. We’ve seen everyday people make sacrifices to care for their neighbours. And I’m being reminded (once again), that I do not know / have never known how long my life will be. But I do know this. Wherever my feet are today, that is the place I am to be a blessing. Today this is in my own neighborhood. Whether it’s sharing my smiling eyes (cuz my mouth is covered by a mask-the request of our authorities!), or texting a cheerful photo to a friend who’s struggling (last night it was a photo of purple and red flowers), or making stupid little jokes to help myself and others laugh for a moment to lift the weight of this virus off our shoulders.
This is a step-by-step journey. I encourage taking it a day at a time … or an hour at a time … whatever chunk of time seems bearable. And to bring Jesus into it. He loves us so much. I’ve been through quite a lot of difficulty in my life, and I can testify that His love has always, always, always been deeper. Sometimes in the midst of pain, I can’t see it, so I hold on to the last time He provided for me in a painful moment.
China, Central Asia