Our village was tucked away near the Colombian border and we lived in the silence of the jungle and its peculiar sounds. One late morning there was an unfamiliar roar in the distance. A large military helicopter appeared and began circling our village, dropping low, looking for a place to land. Before we knew what was happening, dust flew and the door slid open. Men dressed in full military uniforms with machine guns jumped out and stormed into our house. Guns drawn, pointed directly at us, they began shouting commands with accusations!
My life started unraveling before my eyes! I quickly grabbed little Kim from her high chair and Christina came running, clutching my legs. I reached down to reassure her, as Ralph stepped in front of us, whispering to me, “Remember, Jackie, this touched God’s hand first”.
We were being accused of being spies for the United States and they demanded we turn over our only means of communication to the outside world…our two-way radio!
I was trembling, imagining every plausible scenario of how we could be easily disposed of in the river and no one would know for months! The truth that came surging into my consciousness was Job 13:15, “…though he slay me, yet will I hope in HIM”.
Still standing between the enemy and us, Ralph appeared calm and was resolutely responding in Spanish…“We are not spies from America. We have permission from your government to bring medicine to help this isolated group of people.”
How had this happened?
What could we do?
The next few moments stood still…their shouting gestures and my seeing no way of escape brought the verse in Job home to my heart. I purposefully accepted His will, whatever that was going to be and instantly, peace prevailed. What happened next was beyond belief! To our utter astonishment, as abruptly as those militant soldiers arrived…they hastily, mid-sentence, without another word, turned and left!! They did not ask for our passports or visas, nor did they take our rifles that were in plain view, hanging on the wall! God had blinded their eyes and in an instant, redirected their path.
In the aftermath of my processing through this current event, Ralph gave me a definition for “tribulation” that comes to mind every time I am faced with a trial and I just want it gone…no processing…just gone! “Tribulation is God’s fastest road to maturity”. Well… missionary life had definitely put me in the fast lane to grow up! The more life I live, the more I realize how much growth I need!
This is that definition in a “mathematical” formula that changed my life and the way I look at trials, inconveniences, suffering and contentment. It goes like this:
Trials + Acceptance of the trial with joy and thanksgiving = Growth/Maturity
I can respond to trials by:
(1) Benefitting from them
The pressure of trials produce (Jas. 1:2-4):
(2) Reacting negatively to them and locking down emotionally with: Impatience, Fretfulness, Why me?, Depression, Complaining, Rebelliousness or Bitterness.
I choose to yield with gratefulness this morning and to recognize any form of tribulation, as a means to fulfill a greater purpose for my growth and the benefit of others.
What is your response?
~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.