Suffering, Perseverance, Character, Hope and the Missionary Life

The journey from suffering to hope is not an easy one.

My heart is heavy this week as I watch open battle on the streets of my former home, Cairo, Egypt.  What is God’s perspective?

See, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt…I will stir up Egyptians against Egyptians…neighbor against neighbor…I will deliver the Egyptians into the hand of a hard master, a fierce king will rule over them, says the Sovereign, the LORD of hosts (Isaiah 19:1-3).

Obviously, the LORD is concerned about Egypt, whom He refers to as “his people” (Isa 19:25).  I have heard from both Egyptian and expat friends in Egypt concerning street fighting, evacuation, ministry plans up in the air, unanswered questions, in short, suffering.

Whether it is a missionary being murdered in Mexico (two weeks ago) or missionaries being kicked out of _________ (fill in the blank), the question is always the same.

Why, LORD?

Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope (Rom 5:3-4).

Nothing gets the attention of a missionary in a volatile nation such as a coup, uprising, or civil war.  My young family and I lived in and around a war zone for several years in Macedonia.  It was a knock out punch.

Suffering.

Years later we moved to Egypt where the Lord told me, “this year you will need joy, wisdom, and perseverance.”  Through a challenging leadership transition, we persevered for two years.

The suffering of Macedonia produced the perseverance of Egypt.

Egyptians who have persevered for years are now crying out:

When they cry to the LORD because of oppressors, he will send them a savior, and will defend and deliver them (Isaiah 19:20).

The Egyptians have real hope if they prove to have the character to not just call out but call out for a savior.  If so, God will answer their prayer and deliver them.  If not, the opposite of hope is despair and the Egyptian’s uprising will go for naught.  What results with the Arab Spring yield in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria?

Much of the missionary’s life is tangled up with the life of the people and the country’s issues.  She cannot affect political or socio-economic issues, but she is available to help local believers and interested friends interpret events so that the connection is made between suffering, perseverance, character building, and hoping.

In the end, what sustains a missionary during times of crisis is the hope that God gives:

We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God…and hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:2, 5).

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2 Comments on “Suffering, Perseverance, Character, Hope and the Missionary Life”

  1. Jenny Valentine Says:

    Good words Brian

    Reply

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  1. Short-term Mission Trips: Take a Year to Change the World – And Yourself (Guest Post) « FULFILL - December 8, 2011

    […] Suffering, Perseverance, Character, Hope and the Missionary Life […]

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