Update – The Young’s – Thailand
Why are we here?
I have asked that question to myself nearly every day since arriving in Thailand over 4 months ago. That question is ambiguous and the word “here” is vague and can mean many things. It could mean our physical location and have the narrow view of our here and now circumstances. And that is the view I have had and have answered based on that viewpoint alone. The problem arises when it casts doubt (in my case constant doubt) and starts to negate why we are here in Thailand. I have let my circumstances get to me and my focus has become muddy and misguided. In a sense, I was looking for a way out, an excuse to leave because there have been certain hardships here that I don’t want to deal with.
Recently, the “here” has been redefined and my focus has been broadened a bit. I have regained what some Christians call a “Kingdom Perspective.” This perspective came through a visit from a local pastor from the church we attend here. My back is not the strongest and it recently gave out while we were on a mini-vacation. It was the worst it has been since arriving in Chiang Mai and it took me roughly a week to recover. During that time I had to cancel a week of language sessions and just lay low because I couldn’t sit, stand or walk for extended periods of time. Since our language helper’s husband is the pastor he caught wind of my injury and paid me a visit. His English is as good as my Thai so he brought a person who could translate for him. I should’ve had a recorder because as the conversation progressed it was as if God was speaking to me like he did to Moses from a burning bush and I wanted to capture every word.
One snippet from our conversation stood out to me more than everything else he said. From a simple verse in Philippians he gave me a complete redefinition of why we are here. Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Our primary reason for coming to Thailand is to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. God called us to serve in Thailand. We cannot doubt why He brought us here. If we do, we are not abiding in Him. If we happen to have uncomfortable circumstances, or not learn the language to the fullest, or ultimately leave the field of Thailand, God is still the God of the universe and He is still able to finish the good work He started in us. Our circumstances do not supersede our position in Christ. If it does, we are not abiding in Him and/or walking in the Spirit.
I don’t think God uses comfort to grow us as Christians. With an abundance of comfort comes an abundance of apathy. Apathetic Christians are no good to anyone. It is clear to me from Scripture that God uses trials, sufferings, and uncomfortable circumstances to test our faith, not comfort and apathy. The reason for this is in Romans 5:3-5, “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” It is not about us, or our circumstances. It is about God’s love toward us.
I am learning to rejoice in the fact that life is tough here. If it were easy and learning language was a breeze I would not thank my God, I would thank myself for doing a good job and pat myself on the back. Without faith in God and knowing He is going to finish the work He started in me, I rely on my feelings and my emotions to carry me through the day (which are fleeting and very inconsistent).
We are called to be uncomfortable so that our faith in God can be shown to others. We are to rejoice in the midst of suffering, so that Christ’s name can be proclaimed to those who don’t know Him personally. I might even start the dangerous prayer of requesting hardships so that my faith can be tested. In fact I think we should all be praying that prayer.
So let’s ask the question again, “why are we here?”