I didn’t even want to go that night.
We had already had our first bible study of the night, and as we walked to the second house, I found myself thinking of what I was going to eat for dinner once I got back home. But, I remembered what I had read that morning, “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.” Unsure of exactly how to “offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving,” I keep walking because I want it. I want to see the “salvation of God.”
We walked in the house, assumed our positions on the floor, and began the study. It had only been about ten minutes when two new women walked in. They motioned for us to continue, and joined us on the floor. After we walked through Zaccheus’ story & talked about his immediate repenting & obeying, they started talking about things they wanted to pray for in the coming week.
Then she told me her story. In her caste, when you get married, your family is no longer responsible for you, no matter what happens–even if your husband dies leaving you with two children and little income. Her youngest son, the twelve year old, was staying with her mother-in-law–a home in which she was not welcome. Her fifteen year old was staying in a hostel while she decided to stay with her brother and his family for a few days–she had already been told by her sister-in-law that she needed to be out of their house in the next two days. Her only income was $55 a month, and no where to go.
And I didn’t even want to go. Which made me feel about 3 inches tall. So there I sat, 3 inches tall without the slightest clue as to what to say to her that wouldn’t sound completely insensitive, hoping to see the “salvation of God.” But that’s just the thing–I don’t serve a God who doesn’t have answers, who is insensitive, who is perched on a shelf with twinkly lights, who has to be wakened by a bell in the morning, but One who DOES choose to use a single, young, white girl in the slums to speak to and encourage His own.
It felt like I was watching myself encourage her that our suffering, as believers, is not pointless–that the Lord is working in the darkest of situations–that He gives us hope and that we don’t suffer as the world does–I urged her to re-read James 1:2-4. As she read through it a second time, her voice broke and the silent tears that had been threatening to spill over all night stopped her voice. The room was bursting with emotion–and I knew that my response would set the tone for how this group would respond to this suffering as the body of Christ–through her tears she finished the verses that James, inspired by the Spirit of the One true God, penned so many years ago.
She bent her head as the tears began to freely flow. How do I look this woman in the eye, me, a white girl with food in my refrigerator, a roof over my head, money in the bank, & with no idea of suffering’s true meaning in light of her situation, and tell her to “count it all joy?” The tears began to well up in my own eyes as I see the Spirit through me take hold of her hand. And as she looks me in the eye, I see her eyes shift in Spirit-led determination. Her lips quiver and she begins to speak the words I pray I never, ever forget.
“I thank God that I came here tonight. I give thanks for His Word. I give thanks that I could meet you tonight. I give thanks that we could study the Bible tonight and that we can pray together.”
In her obedience I feel her joy coursing and rippling through the room and its in this moment that I see His salvation and hear the One true God’s Spirit whisper, “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me…”
And I didn’t even want to go.