Picture this, you are running late because your daughter needed to change her clothes for a fourth time and you aren’t sure why, but nothing you suggest seems to be carry much authority. You didn’t sleep much last night because her younger brother was screaming most of the night, probably because of the teething. He woke her up and now she is afraid that dinosaurs are going to get her so you need to spend the next hour convincing her that, no they are not. You eventually get out the door after patiently watching her as she puts her shoes on ‘all by herself.’ WHAT IS THAT SMELL?! We now have to change both kids diapers, and get new clothes for one apparently because teething can cause diarrhea and his diaper wasn’t on right…I guess we are going to be really late again.
I am being silly, and we love our kids, but the stresses of these moments are still very real. There are real difficulties and problems that we face in raising our family and starting a business in a developing country and we definitely underestimated the toll that the stress would have on us. But in the midst of all this, I feel God saying that it is actually our great privilege to be the ones to solve some of the problems in our life. Having children will bring new problems into your life, but they are problems you get to solve. Difficulties that we get to face and display the strength and heart of our God. We get to be the ones to comfort and encourage. We get to be the ones to fight off the 3AM dinosaur attacks and teach our kids what love looks like.
I am also reminded of the same privilege as we encounter other struggles. Like the time we spent a couple years building the Pottery workshop to be able to work with the poor and needy in a new context, and then the neighbors say that they don’t want to have those people in their neighborhood so we have to find a way to move everything to a new location and start fresh. Or the time when you are stolen from by the very people you are trying to help. Or the difficulty of navigating the corruption and confusion of a third-world government. I could go on, but the point is that we always have a choice. And like Jesus who chose to leave Heaven for a world full of sin, problems and difficult people to display the love of God and bring redemption to the very people that opposed Him, we have chosen to follow Him, even into the darkness so that we can bring the light. He invites us all into the great privilege of representing Him in the darkness, in the struggle, in the fight. In raising a family, in starting a business, in loving our neighbors and our enemies.
If we try to do this on our own strength, we will surely fail. We may be able to endure for a time but the struggles, the stress, the opposition, will eventually overwhelm. I am reminded of the passage in Isaiah 50 that speaks of the suffering servant that sought the redemption of the children of Israel. In the face of suffering and opposition he says that,
6I offered My back to those who struck Me,
and My cheeks to those who tore out My beard.
I did not hide My face from scorn and spit.
7Because the Lord GOD helps Me,
I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set My face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.
8The One who vindicates Me is near.
Who will dare to contend with Me?
The suffering servant, of course, speaks prophetically of Christ, who ‘for the joy set before Him, endured the cross.’ He was determined. He ‘set his face like flint.’ He fixed his eyes on what lay beyond the suffering. He did not waver when opposed, and because of that we get to see the heart of God for mankind, for He is ‘the image of the invisible God’. And now, as Paul says, we are ‘ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us’. And how we think of the struggles in our life speaks loudly to the world. Is it just difficulty and pain and suffering, or is it an invitation to partner with Jesus to display the heart of God? I believe that if we allow Him, the Holy Spirit will give us new vision to see how our light can penetrate the darkness and how His joy can be our strength.
We have found a new place for the Pottery House! We are completely moved out of the old location and are in process of getting the new location set up. Our legal paperwork is in good standing and we are set up to have our first government inspection sometime over the next five or six months. We have also moved our house to the same location which will simplify a lot of things and allow us to go after all of this more easily as a family. We are grateful for this new transition and excited for this next season!
Thank you all for you continued prayer and support. We love you all and would love to hear what is going on in your life!
Benj, Gwen, Odella and Finn