Some time ago, I heard someone say, “God is more interested in our character than our comfort.” This past week, on a mission trip to Honduras, that truth became a reality to me.
Having been to Honduras a number of times, I was used to cold showers, roosters crowing at 4 am, and creeping creatures like spiders and scorpions. However, even with my past experience, this week was one of the most uncomfortable weeks I have ever spent anywhere.
Everyone in our group was plagued daily by tiny, little insects. You couldn’t see them, and you didn’t even know they’d bit you until your skin began to itch. No one, not even the locals, knew what they were. Their bite wasn’t poisonous, and we weren’t in any danger of getting sick, but the itching drove us crazy! Nothing we did seemed to deter them. If fact, I think they loved the insect repellant as much as they loved our fair complexions!
A couple of days into the trip, as we were treating over 100 patients a day in the medical clinic, itching like crazy, and bone tired, I remembered the statement about comfort and character. I didn’t go to Honduras to be comfortable, and God never promised I would be comfortable serving Him. In fact, He told those who wanted to follow Him to expect to be treated the same way He was treated. Then He added, “Unless you take up your cross and die daily, you cannot be My disciples.”
When I thought about what Jesus went through on the cross, my itching body and my tired feet didn’t seem so important. They really weren’t much at all-just minor inconveniences—- in comparison to all the suffering Jesus did for me. God had used those little critters to teach me an important lesson.
Most, if not all, of the 97 people in our group were experiencing the same insect attacks, but, to my surprise, the young people weren’t complaining! When they returned to the camp each night after a day of missions, I heard testimony after testimony about what God had done that day. Then I realized again, it wasn’t about comfort, but about character . . . about what God was doing to shape their lives for their future in His Kingdom.
It is so easy to focus on whether or not we are comfortable, and complain when we’re not. That’s exactly what the enemy wants – to get us so attuned to our own comfort that we forget about our character, and the character of others. I’m glad God is always focused on the condition of my heart, gets me out of my comfort zone, and does whatever it takes to shape my character into the person He designed me to be.
One of the teenagers said it best in a poem she wrote toward the end of the week:
Little eyes staring
Little feet, no shoes
Hands, so dirty
Clothes so worn
houses, no doors
that have dirt floors
Joy when given hugs
Eyes excited to play
Full of energy
Ready to be lead
Prayers going out
People being saved
Holding heads high
Humbly committing to the Lord
ready to change
Thanks God, Thanks God, that’s why I came.
How is your character shaping up today?Larry Doyle Director of Missions Piedmont Baptist Association