Praising God Through Uncertainty

I can’t even wrap my head around the fact that I have three weeks left in Uganda. I have three weeks left here with Show Mercy. I have three weeks left in these villages. I have three weeks left with all my new friends.

Recently I have been so busy. I went on safari in northwestern Uganda, I’ve been writing a lot and helping the staff with their monthly newsletter. Show Mercy hosted three short term visitors and we’re preparing for a new short term team to arrive the evening of the 29th.

It becomes harder to find the time to sit down and figure out what exactly the Lord is teaching me, especially when I’ve become so accustomed to doing His work everyday. But lately, God has been teaching many people at Show Mercy, and in the surrounding villages, the same thing-praising and trusting God through uncertain situations.

I had a storm come over me a couple weeks ago. I thought something really bad was happening and in the end it turned out to be all a misunderstanding in which something was poorly communicated. For a few days I was afraid and questioning the Lord. The devil was trying to make me believe that maybe God and people didn’t want me in Uganda anymore. When all of this was happening, we started a new week in our Bill Johnson study on having a transformed mind and that week was titled, “enduring uncertainty.” Sometimes it’s funny how God works things out… The devotions recorded for that week were all about praising God through uncertain situations. As we went through that week, the storm I was in cleared up but I felt moved to share what I was learning, and not just me-the other interns and staff as well.

That week, on Thursday, Jen and I didn’t teach in the morning because the students were busy preparing for an all day athletic event that would take place the following day. Instead, we sat together and prepared what to preach at the prison later that day. We decided to speak on this topic we were all learning about. We prepared our sermons, deciding that one of us would preach to the men and one to the women so they would both hear the same message.

At the prison, it was decided that I would speak to the men. I was astounded when Esther, an outreach staff member, perfectly introduced my sermon, without even knowing the topic. She spoke clearly about trusting in God and leaning on Him. I then got up and spoke, feeling filled with the Holy Spirit. I also shared my story of having to trust God when my mother had breast cancer. I told the men about my uncle and aunt who both died of cancer within two months of each other and how scared that made me when my mom found the same disease in herself later that year. When I told them that she had been completely healed, they all cheered. After me, Michael, another outreach staff member, had been planning to speak but decided not to. He showed me his notes and I couldn’t believe when I saw he was planning to speak on the same topic as well-he had even written down the same bible verses that I had shared, including John 11 and Philippians 4:6-7.

God showed me that He really wanted His children to hear that message that day. After speaking at the prison, we always ask if there was anyone that would like to accept Jesus into their hearts for the first time and I was astounded when between ten and twelve men stood up. I got to lead them in a prayer to enter into relationship with Jesus as the trusted His goodness, even while in one of the most uncertain of places. I’m so excited to meet each of these men in heaven one day and hear about how they help strongly to the Lord and praised Him through their storms.

My dear friend Patrice, whom I met here in Uganda, says that in her experience God shows her the next step and when she takes it, He reveals the next. Now, I actually have no idea what will happen for me when I go home. I tend to make my own plans but I think God probably laughs at my little ideas and says, “I have so much more for you.” When I surrender to Him, He makes my story more beautiful than I ever could have done on my own. So I’m trying my very best to live one day at a time while still having vision for how I see God could use me. I still struggle with questioning and trying to plan things out for years in advance but I’m trying to remember that when you’re living a life in radical obedience to God, you never know what He’s going to have you do. And I know that God cares deeply for me and He guides my footsteps.

One of the leaders here at Show Mercy, Lauryn, said something during a discussion of the Bill Johnson study that I can’t seem to get out of my head. She said something like, “God loves our praises from earth so much more than the praises of the angels. The angels are in heaven worshipping the Lord constantly but they are not going through hardships. God loves our praises so much more because we go through hardships and we praise Him through them.”

So, like I encouraged the prisoners, I will praise God through my certainty. Because, like I told them, in the midst of storms, if you let go of God, you have no source of hope. If you are going through a storm, I encourage you also to lean into the Lord. Whether we are enduring a hardship in order for God’s glory to be revealed or for Him to pull you back into His will, God always has you right where you need to be. And there is no reason to be afraid.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:34

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understand, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Consider if pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4

Remembering What God Has Done

I have now been in Uganda for two months, with a month left in my stay. To be honest, the longer I am here the harder it is to stay so astonished by what God is doing. It is true, I am experiencing God more here in Uganda than I ever have before in my life; The first month of my internship I was astounded constantly by His unbelievable love, and nothing has changed about that. God continues to pursue my heart as well as the people around me. But the longer I stay here, the more I get accustomed to the routine of praying for the sick, ministering to the lost, and teaching young minds. The interns have begun to feel a little like maybe we’ve plateaued. No longer do I wake up wondering what awesome things I’m going to see God do that day. It has become common to see God move and change people’s hearts. So in the last several weeks I’ve been focusing on what God is teaching me through everything I see.

The answer is: a lot. In the past two months I’ve learned so much about the Father’s love, transformation, our authority in Christ, and the beautiful unpredictability God has woven into our stories.

In week six of his study, the Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind, Bill Johnson talks about the importance of remembering what God has done for us and those before us. Day 28 encourages us to write down what the Lord has done. He says, “Writing down what God has done in the past empowers you to run with faith in the present.” I don’t want to forget what God has done here in Uganda and what He is doing inside me. These testimonies can bring many to Jesus as well as bring hope and healing to current believers.

So here I am, writing (or blogging) about what the Lord is doing.

I don’t want to forget that time and time again, God answers my prayers, even the simplest ones. When I eat too much chapati and am still trying to digest it days later, I pray to God for relief, and he helps me. When I am preaching at the prison or for instance, last week, when I was asked to stand up in a high school sex ed class and speak, I ask God for words and He gives them to me. When I ask God to make a way for me to have a special moment or conversation with a friend, an opening is presented.

Saturday, March 14, I attended Say No to Hunger in the village of Bakka. After the morning lesson bible lesson on the Last Supper, and the meal of cole slaw, rice, ground nut sauce and chapati, I set off with outreach team member, Joy, and a girl from Bakka named Florence, to do home visits. On these home visits we present children with their gifts and letters from their sponsors and help them write letters back in English. After finishing at one house we continued on through the village.

Spontaneously we stopped at a small home on the left of the six-inch wide path considered a road. In this house lives four children all in the Say No to Hunger program in Bakka: Eric, Kevin, Rebecca and Rachel. We stopped because Joy said their mother had just given birth a week before. We walked in and met this young woman and her new little baby girl. In Luganda, she spoke of how she now wants one more boy to make in an even three girls and three boys. I held the baby with soft hair and big, dark eyes that looked up at me wondering if I was providing her food. The mom told us she had yet to name the baby because she wanted a name that started with R to match the rest of her girls, but she couldn’t come up with anything. As I held the baby, I silently (and a little selfishly) prayed God would provide me with the perfect R name for the child. Even out loud I prayed for this when the mother asked me to pray a blessing over the baby’s life. Unable to come up with anything, I handed the baby back and Joy, Florence and I went on our way. As we walked down the hill that had led up to that home I continued to rack my brain for an R name suitable for the child. I mentioned Rose out loud but Joy told me the woman was hoping for a biblical name. As we kept walking I opened up my bible to the dictionary in the back and skipped to the R section. My eyes scanned down and I saw Rachel and Rebekah and got discouraged until finally I saw Ruth. RUTH! I yelled the name and Joy and Florence turned around and exclaimed. We decided we just had to run back up the hill and name this baby right then. So we ran all the way back up the hill and burst into the house we had just been in and declared the little girl’s name to be Ruth. The mother was delighted. God answered my simple little prayer for me to provide this baby with the perfect name and I was again, in awe.

Even though I was discouraged and uncertain whether God would answer my prayer in time, He did. God’s power has nothing to do with me, His glory will stop at nothing to be revealed.

I am so excited about this child that is now my second goddaughter in Uganda. Unlike the babies we name at the Wakiso clinic and then never see again, I have a relationship with this family and I could potentially see her as often as I’d like.

My God is in the business of answering prayers. While there are still prayers that I am waiting for an answer to, I know He is looking out for me constantly. He has always provided for me. He is the healer and the helper.

I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds (Psalm 77:12)