Patient Endurance

So, while I’m definitely having fun and enjoying good times in Poland, there’s often a lot of challenges. We had a meeting a few weekends back about the things that are really hard right now and some things that are going good. Last Thursday, a small group of us American women missionaries got together to check-in on our hearts, feelings, etc.

I shared that the adjustment to life here has been hard. (I’ve made a few posts about this before, too, I think.) I miss the ease of things in the States, because it’s familiar and habitual. The cultural shock is subtle, but definitely there. It’ll probably hit me more in the coming months as the weather changes. But out of all of this, God has been refining my character a lot. I don’t complain as much as I had in the US. I have to practice a lot of grace living in a one-room apartment with another person, receiving and giving. Serving is just an expected part of life here, and doesn’t feel weird to me. I get frustrated when something doesn’t go the way I wanted or expected, but I can also let it go really quickly instead of marinating on it.

Emotions are amplified overseas. There’s a grieving over the loss of your previous lifestyle. I’m beginning to see that in me. (I often lament there being no Target here…) But I also see my response to these things is reflective and perspective-forming. I’m growing.

We’re currently following a study by Francis Chan about the book of James. James 1:1-12 was our first meeting, and was a good reminder that patient endurance is so needed when we encounter hardships and trials. That we should ask God for wisdom through the difficulties to better understand what we’re going through. That like silversmiths refine silver over and over with fire, God will refine us in the same manner until we are a perfect reflection of him.

This is actually the second time I’m seeing this verse within a month. At the student conference a few weekends ago, the morning’s meeting was centered around James 1:1-8 as well. And I have a small painting I made with a verse from Hebrews 10:36, “Patient endurance is what you need…then you will receive all that he has promised.”

I’m here because I wanted to be part of effecting change for others toward Jesus. In turn, I’m really being transformed as well. It’s kind of amazing how God maps these things, puts details together to shape us how we need to be.

My next personal study is about praying without limits. Looking forward to what that will bring.

Thorns

“…So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:7b-10

I’ve been experiencing these little bad moments throughout my stay here in Poland. Today, I jabbed my finger against the door and broke my nail horizontally in the middle of the nail bed. The day before, I kept scrapping my already peeling cuticles every time I had to open my wallet (and that’s quite often when you’re buying for a new apartment). I’ve banged my head on cabinets. My living arrangements got complicated. I had to walk in the rain with Kaitlyn, lugging about 7-8 lbs. of furniture for 1.5 miles after walking the same distance to go pick it up. I’ve been bitten by mosquitoes about 5-6 times, and the bite marks are still on my face and arm after a week. I also fell and landed on thorny brush, scratching up my arm the first full day I was here.

Needless to say, I’ve faced some mishaps. And it’s only been 2 weeks now.

However, don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not discouraged by any of this. Just as Paul saw his “thorn” as God’s way of reminding him not to be proud and to rely on his strength over Paul’s, I feel more confident that I’m where I’m supposed to be. Satan can’t do anything about my presence in Poland; I’m ready to share about Jesus and live with love, pursuing grace and truth here. My Polish skills keep improving, and I see where God can use me in sharing my faith with some other teachers and to pray for those who are hurting.

I’m blessed thoroughly. The challenges I’m facing at the just the beginning are only going to reap a richer, durable character in me. I want to keep up my faithful attitude, even when the times will get harder (and they certainly will as the school year goes forward).

The sermon this morning at Tomy church was about Joshua 1, and following the promise of God courageously. The take-away at the end and I hope to keep it in mind in the months to come:

Kiedy Bóg mówi: “Naprzód!”– odważnie zaufaj Jego Słowu.
When God says: “Go forward!” — boldly/courageously trust His Words.