“Where are you?” I said on my cell phone.
My friend replied, “Oh, sorry, I decided not to go because I heard they were going to tear gas the market.”
Cool. I was standing in the middle of Jinja’s central market.
I instantly jumped into action and sped away. I didn’t particularly want to be tear-gassed. Not today.
In Uganda and many other countries, tear gas is the government’s way to break up riots and give the government a sense of control, a fear factor.
But, everything was peaceful. People were merely buying and selling produce, clothing, and spices. It was just like any other day. There was no rioting.
I could feel the explosions in the pit of my stomach.
For one irrational second, I wished I could click my ruby slippers together three times and be back in the United States, where it was safe and something like this would never happen.
But there is an element of fear wherever you live. Sometimes there is nothing you can do about that. And, I don’t have ruby slippers.
It reminds me of Jeremiah, the prophet. Jeremiah lived in the tumultuous era that led to the Babylonian Invasion. He pleaded with the Israelites to turn to God and he pleaded with God. He knew of the coming destruction and begged for change. But his words fell on deaf ears.
Yet, God continued to remind Jeremiah that He was behind all things and would bring hope.
I’m taking a lesson from Jeremiah. There are certainly things we can all do about the direction of our government and the injustice we see. Take up your cause!
But, I understand I can’t change the world. If I riot, argue, petition, and scream for all the injustice I’ve seen and the terror I’ve heard, will it be enough?
No. It won’t. This requires something bigger than myself.
I recently met an incredible young lady. After telling me her story of redemption and God’s provision against all odds, I asked her a question. “How did you get through everything?”
“I knew I was different. No matter what other people told me to do or be, I resisted. I knew I was God’s child. Even when my family and friends deserted me, I had God. And He never left me,” she confessed.
This friend never got bitter or rubbed her success in anyone’s face. She’s pretty quiet actually. But she is always smiling.
Even Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 reveals, “We do not want you to be uninformed about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”
I love this passage because it gives an accurate emotional picture of life. Paul despaired of life. He believed in Jesus but that didn’t mean he had the delusion that “if God really loves you, good things will always come to you.”
I’ve met a lot of prosperity gospel preachers here in Uganda. It’s so tempting to believe in financial prosperity and success from a coddling God. But, it’s not true.
Instability. Hurricanes. War. Fires. Nuclear Bombs. Suicide. Death. Poverty. Disease. Hate crimes. Tear gas.
There were many Christians in the market that day. There are many Christians in the world. So where’s the prosperity?
The hope that God promised Jeremiah was a different kind of hope. It was Jesus. Jesus promises us eternal life, forgiveness, salvation and His presence.
It’s not an easy answer. Sorry.
Persevere dear friends. I can’t explain away all the problems and tragedies in the world. And I’m still searching for those ruby slippers.
But, I can promise you that your journey will be worthwhile.