“…for they have dug a pit to capture me and have hidden snares for my feet,
but you know, Oh, Lord, all their plots to kill me.” Jeremiah 18:23
Has anyone ever set a snare for your life?
Shortly after we returned to our village in the remote jungles of Panama after a two-month absence, a young Kuna man came to our door apprehensively, but confidently, to share with us that Aquileo, the town representative to the Panamanian government, was plotting to kill my husband! The only word that would describe my shock was…ESCAPE! However, our isolated village made an escape impossible!
In my traumatized state of mind a verse in Jeremiah raced into my consciousness… Jeremiah was facing his plotting antagonists and said, “But the Lord is with us like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail…” Jer. 20:11 This plan had taken Aquileo two years to put together and we were being informed that the time had come to carry it out!
My first thought…my two little girls…what could I do?
Would we be disposed of in the river?
No one would find us…ever!
This was all a nightmare…this could not be happening!
My heart was stunned, on the one hand, because Aquileo and his wife had been consistently friendly to us, visiting in our jungle home, laughing and sharing. The terrifying reality was, they were planning to kill us at the same time!! I was terrified… I felt betrayed because so many in our Kuna family had known of this plan and no one, until now, had told us. I felt indebted to the young man who had risked his tribal reputation to protect my husband.
When?…Where?…How would this be carried out?? What should we do?
What could we do!
Ralph, took one look at me and instantly, reminded me that I should “joyfully” be giving thanks to God that for the two years of planning I had been spared the stress of knowing about this development! He had recently given me a mathematical “formula”, as a reminder, for just this kind of situation. It went like this:
Trials + Acceptance of the Trial with Joy = Maturity
I asked myself these 6 questions:
1. Could I trust God’s Sovereign plan? Romans 8:28
2. Did I believe God would never give me a trial too big? 1 Cor. 10:13
3. Would He give me a way of escape? 1 Cor. 10:13
4. Is every trial given with divine purpose and benefit? Rom. 8:18; 11 Cor. 4: 17
5. Am I convinced the Holy Spirit will help, comfort and carry me through this trial? Rom. 8: 26
6. Do I believe that testing will produce Godly character in me? Job 23: 10
For the formula to work growth and maturity in me
I would have to answer each of these questions with a “YES”!
Ralph’s response was, “This is impossible, Aquileo is my friend!” Denial was never an option I considered in my thinking! Ralph immediately stood up and bolted out the door, crossing the village to confront his nemesis!
In that talk Aquileo shared a verbal wound that he had received from my husband when we first moved into Pucuro. He felt he had “lost face” among the men in our very tight community. Ralph had no idea that the result of his jesting had caused such pain and immediately humbled his heart and asked forgiveness.
I found that accepting the trial (even this one!) with joy proved to be a life-lesson that made a permanent imprint on me to this day, as I face life daily. Accepting not just the formula, but also its applied truth with a joyful and resounding “YES” has changed my life! The struggles continue to come, but accepting God’s purpose, provision and control with joy is the quickest path to peace, growth and maturity.
JOY is not the absence of suffering but the presence of the Lord.
C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is never in our power, it is the fruit of accepting God’s
provision in difficult circumstances!”
We waited to see what would happen to us. Days passed slowly, the nights were even longer (!), and one bright morning, Aquileo and his family arrived at our front door… smiling! I cannot put into words the delight and relief I felt as I opened the door and invited them inside!
“Consider it PURE JOY whenever you face many trials of many kinds
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be
MATURE AND COMPLETE, not lacking anything…!”
James 1: 1-4
Are you finding joy in your times of difficulty?
~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America. Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a Spanish-speaking church in Southern California. My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights.