The summer was going so well—I was loving my team, the people we were working with, the fellowship and laughter and obviously the food. But I still felt off. I would see things that would remind me of my dad, and I would get sad. I would think about my brother being at home having to deal with moving out of our house, meeting with attorneys, dealing with things no 21-year-old should have to deal with, and I would feel guilty for not being there with him. I felt as if I was trying to escape reality that I had left behind in the United States, but I couldn’t ever outrun it.
One day, my team and I had the morning off, so I decided to spend some extended time in the Word and with God. I was reading through Amos 9, and if you’ve ever read through this book, you know that there is a lot of judgement of God’s people going on. In this particular chapter, God is telling Amos that He is going to “sift the house of Israel” or purify them (verse 9). There was a word in that verse that I wanted to look up, so I pulled up a commentary by Charles Spurgeon, and this quote was attached to the verse:
"I think I see you, poor believer, tossed about like that wheat, up and down, right and left, in the sieve, and in the air, never resting. Perhaps it is suggested to you, 'God is very angry with me.' No, the farmer is not angry with his wheat when he casts it up and down in the sieve, and neither is God angry with you; this you shall see one day when the light shall show that love ruled in all your griefs."
Prior to leaving for Europe, my dad had just passed away, and I left my brother at home with a lot of legal matters to take care of. The whole summer, even the whole year thus far, I felt like God was punishing me for something. After reading that quote and chapter, I couldn’t help but praise God, and I was reminded that His hand is in every single detail of our lives. Nothing happens outside of His control, even when we feel like we can’t get a grip on life.
For the rest of the summer, I began to see how God was/is using the things that have happened in my life, even the things that had happened just prior to leaving for Europe. We all go through hard times, but we are also all sinners. However, we serve a God who gives us more love and grace than we deserve. If I learned anything this summer, it’s that just because bad things happen, it doesn’t always mean God is punishing us. Instead, we can take the hard circumstances in our lives, use them to encourage others and, most importantly, glorify God.
2019 Ten2 Participant, Athens, Greece