For me, life at remote Camp Langano in Ethiopia had many moments of struggle, i.e. suffering.
But on the very first day of the very first camp, God did something to prove that He would help me.
When we arrived, there was no place for us to live, but a one-room camper cabin, with an outhouse.
I had a major bad attitude. I was upset at our mission and at God for not providing what I thought was a mere basic need.
How could You, God?
Bring us to this remote camp with no place for us to live?
It didn’t take long to get our room cleaned and painted and set up with a few bits of furniture, and a few days later — that first day of camp, just before the first boys arrived — one of the ladies on the American workteam gave me a brand new Baby Taylor guitar.
Gave. Me. A beautiful guitar.
She had taken this special little guitar to Ethiopia precisely to give it away, and try as I might, I could not convince her to give it to an Ethiopian.
She insisted it was from God for me.
So I sheepishly accepted it.
As I walked down the sandy road to my cabin that morning, with that Baby Taylor on my back, I cried salty tears, disbelieving this.
How could you, God?
Give me this gift when I have been in an angry huff against You?
It was more than the guitar; it was the message God sent: I see you, Sarah. I know this will be hard for you. But do not fear, I will help you sing your way through.
And He did.
For me, life on earth has many moments of struggle. Suffering.
Recently I have been disturbed with God, crying salty tears, disbelieving this: my long, dear friend with terminal cancer had serious spinal nerve damage caused by the radiation and now she is paralyzed from her waist down.
How could You, God?
Isn’t the slow death from cancer bad enough?
So this is a good week to remember that little guitar.
But there is more to my story.
We’d been living at Langano in that cabin for about three months when one of our colleagues finished her assignment and left the country.
We were then given permission to move into her house, a cozy cottage under a massive sycamore fig tree, outfitted with her green gingham curtains.
Green just ‘happens’ to be my favorite color.
And gingham is one of my all-time favorite fabrics.
Those curtains had another message from God: I know you, Sarah, and I prepared this house especially for you. You just had to wait.
Remembering this story brings me hope that God will give gifts and messages to my dear friend, to help in her every moment of struggle, suffering, as she waits for all He is preparing especially for her.
Yes, it is good to remember – and to praise God! – for that little guitar and those green gingham curtains.