We lost a long time member of our community recently. He was a man of faith. He was known for his enjoyment of singing hymns and reciting scripture. He was also homeless. For many years he had no family, and no home in normal society. Yet we, who are either in or connected with the homeless community in Tokyo, grieve for him and thank the Lord for him.
All too often we do not seem to be on the same page as God. We value the rich, the powerful, and the strong. We think if we can be like them, we can do much for the Lord.
I have known many missionaries—men and women of great faith—who seemed to be able to go nonstop in the power of God. They can speak at length on their many accomplishments and so many things that God is doing. In the light of these sorts of missionaries, I feel like a failure.
When I finished my first term of service I was sick. Doctors had run many tests and had yet to adequately diagnose anything. I had hoped that a return to my home country and a medical system without a language barrier would fix the problem quickly. It did not. It is a long story, and one that kept me away from Japan for several years.
But, God be praised, I am now back in Japan. I did not come back fully healed and ready to be a powerhouse; I came back with a chronic illness. While I would not willing choose to be anywhere else, there are days when I ask God why he brought me back. Would not a stronger, healthier missionary be able to accomplish more than what I can?
I work with the poor and the marginalized—people who are struggling to figure out life when it is hard and there seems little chance of a healthy, successful life. I do not come to them as someone who is strong and has it all together. I too, am trying to figure out life. Yet, I can also come to them telling them that we can meet the God of the universe in our weakness and suffering, and in our daily struggle to figure out how to live. I am humbled to think that God can use weakness and pain as much, or more, than he can use strength.
I know that in this world, people will continue to struggle. Pain will not cease anytime soon, nor will the stresses of daily life. So often the world will try to get us to cover up those “flaws” and pretend we are strong. Yet, we have a God who is not only infinitely stronger than we are, but yearns to meet us in our weakness so that in him we can be strong.
By Rijke, an OMF missionary
Will you pray for Japan?
- Pray that missionaries wouldn’t be discouraged when they struggle.
- Pray that all Christians would keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and reflect him to those around us.
- Pray that we wouldn’t try to hide our flaws from one another, but point the way to God.