What do you do when you see people in need all around you, you have the means to help some of them but you don’t want to breed dependence?
What do you do when you want to help someone financially to get a better start but you know any income will be taken by her psychotic demon-possessed husband so he can visit the temple yet again and pay the monks to drive out the demon, yet again?
What do you do when your friend, the sister of that man, has lost all her hard earned savings to him and lives in fear of him to the point that she has lost heart in her walk with God?
What do you do when you want to help a friend rebuild their home that is falling down around them but when a jealous neighbour sees the house being rebuilt they tell the land owner and suggest he ups the rent on the land, causing your frightened friend to put a halt to the work before it has been made liveable?
What do you do when heaps of neighbours are asking you to give their kids private English lessons when it’s not really the focus of your ministry?
‘Yaa Peung’ is a term in Thai that means ‘just a sec’, ‘not just yet’, ‘wait a bit’. This, God has been teaching me, is to be my first response in such situations, followed of course by prayer.
I am the type of person who, when I see people living in great difficulty, wants to step in and help as much as I can to make their life better. This sounds very noble but I have actually been learning lately that it stems from unbelief! It often seems that God is so slow to answer prayers and sometimes I just can’t see Him helping, so I feel I have to take over His job and do it right, if it’s within my power to do so, as if I know better than God! Why is God always so slow to bring about His purposes?
As I was chatting with God about this the other morning, He reminded me of Joseph languishing in prison through no fault of his own. I’m sure if I was there and had any power whatsoever I would have done all I could to get him out of prison. After all God, what are you doing letting an innocent man suffer in prison for so long? But then Joseph wouldn’t have been there to interpret the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker. The cupbearer wouldn’t have mentioned Joseph when Pharaoh had his dreams. No one would have saved up food for the famine during the years of plenty. And Joseph’s family, the beginnings of the Israelite nation through whom God was going to bless all the nations, would have died. Or God would have brought all things together for good as He does, and would have made sure that I learnt my lesson.
Then there was Moses who, on seeing the suffering of his people, killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew and consequently had to flee to Midian where he lived out the next 40 years of his life until God finally called him to save His people at the age of 80! When he tried to help in his own way and his own time, it didn’t help at all. But another 40 years of suffering for the people God?! Why does God allow such suffering to go on for so long?
And what about impetuous Peter, cutting off the ear of the high priest’s servant in an effort to save Jesus from being arrested? Maybe it’s a good thing he then denied Jesus and didn’t hang around to see the crucifixion or he might have tried to rescue Jesus from the suffering He was destined to go through for our salvation.
I’m so thankful than even when we make mistakes, even when we stuff things up through our sinfulness, our unbelief, our impetuousness, God still promises to bring all things together for good, for His glory. And in the process He teaches us some good lessons.
I’m so thankful that even though I stepped in ahead of God’s timing in my eagerness for someone to have a home that would keep them dry in the coming wet season, God enabled the job to finish well in the end. All this despite the horrible fear that we’d destroyed two years of work in that community in one day when it looked like the budget would blow out above what we had set aside, and leave us with not enough to pay the workers in the community.
I’m so thankful that God promises to guide us and to give us His wisdom, and that so long as I am focussing on Him and not my own petty needs and fears, so long as I am seeking His will and not jumping in to do things according to my own puny wisdom, I can trust that He will help me to make the right decisions about what to do in all those situations above and in any others that come my way. After all, God has placed me here to be His instrument, to join in what He is doing. It’s not as if I’m asking Him to help me and join in what I’m doing!
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. (1 Cor 2 1-5)