Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
Have you ever experienced that feeling of panic where your heart seems to stop just for a second and time seems to stand still? I had that exact feeling on a bus in the middle of South Africa nearly a decade ago, but I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday.
I was on a missionary trip with Youth With A Mission and my team and I were on a 19 hour bus journey from the Western Cape to Mozambique for a 2 month outreach mission. Usually I don’t sleep well on journeys, but for whatever reason I must have been exhausted and had curled up in my seat and fallen asleep with my rucksack at my feet. As I felt the bus ease to a stop at one of the many service stations we visited on that trip I groggily rubbed my eyes and reached down for my rucksack to grab my purse ready to restock on snacks. As I reached into my rucksack to grab my handbag the heart stopping moment occurred. The familiar material of my bag did not graze my fingertips even when I started to frantically delve deeper into the rucksack. As my heart rate continued to climb, I emptied out my rucksack onto my seat and started desperately searching under my seat. But it was to no avail. The handbag containing my purse, cash, bank cards, and camera was missing. Reality started to slowly sink in…I was in a foreign country, about to embark upon this 2-month outreach trip with no cash and no way of accessing money. I had fees to pay and would need to buy food and essential items, but now had no idea how I would be able to do this. The area we were travelling to was out in the sticks and operating load sharing, so we would only have electricity for certain hours of the day; internet access and phone signal would be patchy at best. My options were drastically reduced.
I was no longer in control.
Isn’t it interesting that sometimes we have to get to the point of everything being stripped away before we fully rely on God? I’m ashamed to admit that up until that point I’d been quite smug in my self-reliance, however, for those next couple of months I truly had no choice but to rely on God. Thank goodness we serve a God who never lets us down. Over the proceeding weeks and months my faith went from strength to strength as I experienced God’s provision in whole new ways…money being sent to the missionary base from family members of friends who had no idea about the theft, generous gifts from strangers who felt called to bless me for no reason at all, cheques in the post…and the list goes on.
It’s in these times when everything is stripped back that we really see what a faithful and powerful God we serve. May we not forget, even when this tough time is over.
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8