Vignettes | Comfort. Faith. Patience

Sometimes small events can completely change how you define character qualities. Over the next few blogs I’d like to tell some of those stories. I’ll start with stories about comfort, faith, and patience.

Picture a sprawling capital city in a post-war African country. Every open area is filled with makeshift housing. Since the ground level space is taken, squatters have started living on the roofs of apartment buildings; using whatever materials they can find to create shelter.

One day I was staying in one of those apartment buildings and I managed to get an Internet connection to open my e-mail. The message I read felt like a knife. I went in the washroom, sat down and cried. It wasn’t the delicate, don’t-muss-your-makeup crying of Hollywood movies.

In the ceiling of the bathroom there was a shaft that opened to the roof. After a while, I heard the gentle voice of a woman singing a worship song in a dialect I didn’t understand.

As she sang, the comfort of God washed over me. I was so thankful to God. At the time, I assumed it was a “God coincidence” that this Christian woman was worshipping God at just the moment I needed it.

Later I realized that she probably heard me and reached me in the only way she knew how.

This time, picture two women sitting in a car on a dark street in Canada. One of them is a very upset and stressed me; the other is my best friend.

For quite a while someone had been telling terrible stories about me. Nothing I tried seemed to resolve the issue. As we sat in the dark, I said that my husband and I had decided that if this didn’t resolve soon, we would ask an older couple in the church to mediate.

My friend sat up straight and blurted out, “You should do that! Because they are godly people and they will know you are right.”

I had enough self-awareness to know I wasn’t objective. I replied, “Remember you’ve only heard my side of the story.”

“I know that” she said, “but I know you, and you would never do something like that.”

No one had ever expressed so much faith in me before. She felt she didn’t need all the details, because she knew me.

I have tried to have that same kind of faith in God.

I lived in Mozambique for several months while trying to complete my son’s adoption. At one point we came to a bureaucratic standstill and things seemed too complicated to sort out. That night I went to church with two-year-old Pedro.

There was a piece of coloured string tangled around the leg of the bench in front of us. It seemed like quite a prize to him

. . .but he couldn’t get it undone.

Each time he let go, I would start untying it; but before I could finish untying, he would pull an end and tighten it all over again.

After we did this a few times, I recognized what God was trying to show me. Like a gentle father he wanted to sort out my problems, but I wouldn’t let go for long enough.

Perseverance is good . . .but sometimes it also includes a period of waiting and trusting. I needed to let go and let God untangle things in the background, things I perhaps didn’t even know about.

I did. And he did.