23 Jun Fighting for Hope
The following is a guest post from Joseph Held, a Junior at UNC who is serving with our Second City team in Eastern Europe.
“I like God, but God does not like me.” The words slowly stumbled from the 21-year-old’s mouth as he pieced together his limited English. Stuck in a horrific waiting game, the Afghani refugee spoke with callused pain of the “big problem” which had consumed years of his life.
The language barrier seemed insurmountable as my teammates and I spoke of God’s love for him demonstrated in Christ’s death on the cross. He loves you. He sees you. The words did not register, which was confirmed by the confusion on his face.
Powerless. I felt powerless. Frustrated, broken, and powerless. I had the message of hope, but language prevented its effective transference.
I offered the man a cold water bottle, a cheap substitute for living water, and listened as he wrestled to find phrases that I could understand. All I could do was listen and nod compassionately as he described his journey– one that had left him riddled with scars.
In my three weeks in Eastern Europe, the feeling of powerlessness has repeatedly consumed my thoughts. The reality of my inability to change people’s hearts or fix their broken lives, even when they speak English fluently, has become increasingly apparent as I encounter a people without God and without hope.
And here lies despair: when my eyes shift from the giver of life to my insufficiency.
He loves you. He sees you.
The same words I so desperately wanted the young refugee to understand are the ones I am first to forget.
The irony is clear– becoming hopeless as I share the message of hope. Yet, as I am confronted with language barriers or the intense passivity that characterizes much of Eastern Europe, this is often the default of my heart.
The unavoidable and beautiful truth is that I am entirely dependent on the Lord to bring his people to himself.
However, in the past few weeks, I have questioned whether he will fulfill his promise, and although this doubt is easily refuted with Scripture, I allow its presence to corrode my mind.
He will act.
A simple reminder, but it attacks the root of my doubt. God is not a deistic being idly watching over a broken world. He is good shepherd, “who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
Our God is living and active, moving, though I might not always see it, and faithful, though I might not always believe it. While I am powerless over another person’s salvation, I am empowered with the Holy Spirit and privileged to represent his name.
God will fulfill his purpose among the nations. God will fulfill his purpose for the young refugee whom he created. This is a hope that calls me to wholly trust God. This is a hope I must fight to believe.
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Will you pray with me, that my team and I would fight to place God as our everlasting hope, resting in his promises and our identity in him?