“The wives are the ones who really go through the difficulty. They are the real heroes.” I heard this statement as one man was giving a missionary report. I thought, “What do the wives do? How can they be called the heroes?” Well, after the last 4 months I am learning what he meant. Living in a different country is disorientating. The culture is unusual. The way of life is unfamiliar. The attitudes are different. Julie is facing this all and I’m trying to help. Going through this, I have thought about how to think about difficulties and want to share some thoughts that have helped me.
Our first few months were difficult. At first Julie would share her trials with me and I would try to think of ways to encourage her. I know guys like to problem solve rather than empathize so I was trying to listen. Though I didn’t know what to say, it was hard for me to keep quite. I thought it would be more encouraging to say something wrong than to say nothing at all. I said things like “It would get better” and “God is our rock, we just need to trust.” Then some days got better and some days got worse.
Eventually my line “things would get better” had to stop because things weren’t getting better. It has been 4 months already and things are just as hard as they were before. Also, the line “God is our rock, we just need to trust,” had to go. First, if you know Julie, then you know she has trust and she is not lax about faith. Secondly, the line had to retire because it assumed with more trust everything would get better. This idea is dangerous because of its corollary: if things are bad, then you are not trusting. This is not true. This is not biblical.
After studying the Lament Psalms in my seminary class this week I began to realize how comforting they are. In these psalms the writer tells God of his distress and then he calls on God for help. Calling out to God in distress, a kind of complaining, is biblical and it can be used as a device to depend on God. Sadly, we often portray faithful Christians as those who have everything figured out. Yet Lament Psalms show us we can be confused, feel hopeless, and still place faith in God. We don’t have to suffocate by the expectation of internal harmony; we can be have hope in spite of our strife. So I think the right way to think of difficulties is that it is okay. It is okay for things to be difficult. God will either take away the difficulty or he will give you the strength to bear it. People who overcome difficulties are heroes. While I am here in Romania, not suffering in comparison to Julie, I can say she is the real hero. She is conquering much every single day.