This is from an email I recently sent to a far away friend serving in Guatemala... I thought it was a good summary of life now and worth sharing in blog-land too:
My dear friend I was so glad to get your most recent update with the lessons that you are in the process of learning. I too am in the midst of many lessons the Lord is desiring for me to learn, sometimes through difficult days.
(This is kind of long... so you may want to wait to read on, if you're busy right now.)
A short briefing about that:
My school continues to provide me with great challenges every day. Really I shouldn't say "my school", mainly I mean my students. As a whole, they are the most disobedient, defiant, and disrespectful children I've ever encountered. They really don't care to learn much of anything, and they instead occupy most of our moments together in fights of one sort or another. They speak with cruel words (often cursing, and terrible name calling), and fight brutally (we call our recess time, "prison watch"). There is usually a fight every day in one of the four third grade classrooms which has to be stopped by teachers or security guards separating children who would otherwise continue the brawl until someone was bleeding or injured more severely. I've really never known anything like it existed. The students are clearly troubled by many factors in their lives, the most obvious being their homes and families. During a recent personal narrative lesson one student wrote about her "baby brother's daddy" who tried to stab her mom in front of her, another wrote about her cousin being shot in a drive-by and spending time at the hospital with him, and still another wrote about his older brother who tried to set his grandmother's house on fire when he was suspended from school. They are so full of anger it is a very upsetting place. I have seen so clearly that without the Lord's work we would all be in the same situation. I know that without the Lord working in their lives they are headed for great difficulties and a life filled with turmoil.
So as a result, Matt and I were fairly sure that I wouldn't teach there next year. We felt like the emotional and physical energy I spent on school every day wasn't helping our marriage or my general wellness. I still believe that I could never live through a healthy pregnancy teaching there (not that I'm pregnant, but that we'd like to think about that in the next couple of years). Its a troubling place to be. On the other hand, I constantly considered that without Christians in such places there is no testimony of the Lord. I also know that these children need to see adults who lead "normal" and "responsible" lives. I also remember thinking that if I were a "missionary" in title I would expect great hardship and trial, but being "just a teacher" I wanted something more comfortable. That didn't seem to add up in my mind. That with a certain title I felt suffering wold somehow be easier. So then we began thinking more about finances. Right now teaching is providing for our "life" but not for us to pay Matt's school tuition. So we had loans. The loan interest was astronomical and constantly rising (about 10%). So we realized, and had wise counsel that it wouldn't be wise to continue in that direction. So we're shifting our plans. Matt will slow down the pace of his school (taking fewer classes a semester), work part time (a matter of prayer... he's sent out a lot of applications with no response yet), and we'll use his income to pay for school as we go. We may be here in Louisville a little longer. At the same time, also means we need me to continue in a job which totally provides for our "life". Therefore quitting teaching isn't really an option, as the other jobs I'd considered (nannying, etc.) wouldn't be able to provide a similar income. So now I'm seeing the Lord at work in developing endurance within me and a knowledge of His presence that will always strengthen me for each day.
All that to say this is a passage which has particularly encouraging lately and made me think of you as well:
"May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light."
A cross reference I also read is very similar:
"For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
We're reading Colossians with our small group and also using some of Sam Storms' book The Hope of Glory to help in application and discussion. I thought these comments of his were also especially encouraging based upon the Colossians passage:
"The goal of this empowerment is endurance and patience, the former a reference to persevering in the face of difficult circumstances, the latter a reference to steadfastness that does not retaliate against those who resist us. Events and trials and hardship tempt us to quit, but God grants endurance. People and criticism and injustice tempt us to seek revenge, but God grants patience."
I was also so thankful to see in Romans that the basis of our encouragement and endurance comes from the Scriptures. It helps me to remained focused as I seek the Lord in study of His Word... knowing that I need it, desperately. And knowing He has given it in order that I might know more of Him and rely fully upon His promises. That is especially helpful in facing each day with God and His purposes on my mind.
Well, this has been long... I hope that this may encourage your spirit my friend. If it doesn't seem to resonate with you now in the ways I might hope, then maybe it is just a testimony of the Lord working in my life, and for that I hope He would also be glorified as well.