When Derek and I were in Zambia last summer, we got to know John Chitambo, who will be our partner in crime (uh, ministry) with the CROSS project when we return, Lord willing. Though our time was short, we really enjoyed our time with John and feel blessed that we will get to work with him.
Something John said to us has stuck with me over the last 6 months. During our trip to the bush for a few days to do a CROSS “conference,” there were a few things that didn’t go as planned. For most people who live in a place like Zambia, they get used to things not going as planned. Someone once told me, “In Zambia, we expect suffering – it is the life we live.”
So, on our trip to the bush whenever things went “wrong” (i.e. not according to our plan), John would graciously remind us, “You just have to encourage yourself in the Lord.” It almost got to be a joke as we rode along the bumpy rode with choruses of:
John: “God is good!?!”
Us: “All the time!”
John: “All the time!?!”
Us: “God is good!”
John: “You just have to encourage yourself in the Lord.”
Maybe you’re wondering why that has continually come back to me over the last 6 months. Well, John is a typical Zambian, in that he knows what it means to suffer. Having already seen his first wife die and now facing the daily trials of his 20-year old son battling kidney failure, it just means more when he tells us how every day he needs to encourage himself in the Lord.
Lately, God has been showing me verses in the Bible along the same lines as John’s motto:
“Be glad in the Lord.” Ps. 32:11
“Delight yourself in the Lord.” Ps. 37:4
“Hope in God.” Ps. 42:5, 11
“Rejoice in the Lord.” Phil. 3:1, 4:4
Notice a theme? God is the source of our encouragement, gladness, delight, hope, and joy. “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” (Ps. 94:19) That’s why we can sing “When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my Hope and Stay.”
So, wherever you’re at, hear the words of John Chitambo and “Encourage yourself in the Lord.”