A week ago yesterday, in church, the Pastor preached on Romans 8:18-39. I have always loved that passage, (most of it is highlighted in my Bible) and I was excited to hear what he had to say about it. Well, between translating, and trying to keep my kids quiet, I didn’t get as much of the sermon as I had hoped. Last week, I read that passage again as part of my personal devotions, and even repeated Romans 8:28 over in my head several times. It was a difficult week being reminded that everyone at home was having thanksgiving, and I was here, missing out on it. Saying these words were an encouragement to me, and really helped get me through the week.
Last night, I was thinking about what I was going to blog about today. There is nothing major going on at the moment, so I wasn’t sure what I’d write about, but I knew something would come to me.
This morning, I was straightening up my room, when I came across a note from my dad. When I opened it, a piece of paper fell out. It was a verse that he had printed out, and stuck in there. The verse was Romans 8:28. I had forgotten he put it in there. I started feeling like maybe this was what I’d write about.
A little while later, I wanted to write down a little “to do” list, so I grabbed an old notebook and jotted down my list. It had been years since I had seen that pocket-sized notebook, so I decided to flip through it. I was shocked at what I found. It was filled with verses from Romans 8, and I had written down what they meant to me, and why I liked them. As if that wasn’t enough to give me goosebumps, I searched for the date that I wrote it, and it was five years ago this week. It stopped me in my tracks, and I began to read what I had written.
My life is so different now than it was five years ago, but the words that I wrote were almost identical to what I would write now. Yesterday was my six-year wedding anniversary, but this week is also another anniversary for me. It is five years ago this week that my husband, Adan, was deported. I wrote those verses in that notebook the night he left America.
It was the beginning of a new chapter in my life, and I had written how I was scared about my future. I wrote that I was confused, and upset. I didn’t know what my prayers should be. I didn’t know when I’d see my husband again, and everything felt hopeless. Then, I read the passage, and wrote reminders to myself. I wrote things like, my “present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed…” (Rom. 8:18) and “if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Rom. 8:25) Other verses I wrote about were Romans 8:26 “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us…” and “If God is for us,who can be against us?” (Rom.8:31)
All of these are verses that I could read daily, and they would speak to me every time, but the one that has really meant the most to me, then and now, is Romans 8:28 “ And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
In that note from my dad he wrote, “I know this is not where you want to be, but it is where God wants you, and I’m glad you understand that.” He’s right. I would have never chosen to come to El Salvador in a million years. During the holidays, it’s surely not where I want to be. There hasn’t been a Christmas in five years that I haven’t broken down and cried at some point. Either I’m sad because I am here, far away from my family, and all our traditions in America, or I am in the U.S. crying because it’s breaking my heart that Adan is missing out on one of our baby’s first Christmases. Every year I come into this season, knowing it will be one of mixed emotions. The excitement of decorating the tree, or watching my kid’s open their presents wears off when I realize that there is no Christmas caroling, or candle-light Christmas Eve church service. For every one thing I love about the Holidays, it seem like there are two things that will make me sad.
During those moments, I know, I just have to remind myself, that in the end, it’s all for my own good. I do believe that God has a purpose for me in El Salvador. Although there are times that I question it, I know that He wants me here, even when it is hard for me to be here.