The Lord is my light and my salvation –
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life –
of whom shall I be afraid?
The divorced mom of three left work wondering how she could make ends meet, especially now, at the beginning of the school year when there are even more expenses than normal – registration costs, uniforms, books. But she was thankful for her new job which would at least allow her to get the basics. She had gotten paid that day so she headed toward the store where she planned to purchase textbooks for her kids and then pay the water and electric bills. She had checked and double-checked before leaving home to make sure she had her kids’ identification cards so that she could get a discount on the school supplies.
Then it happened. There was a tug at her purse, then a yank. She held onto the purse, knowing it contained all the money she had. The man had a knife, but somehow the danger didn’t register; she couldn’t lose that purse. She clung to it while he dragged her a block down the street. She was scraped and bruised. He waved the knife at her, hit her, and kicked her where she lay. She couldn’t hold on. The purse was gone. And so was everything she had – money, identification cards (similar to Social Security cards in the US) for herself and her three children, her cell phone, her keys.
Somehow she made it the rest of the way home, banged, bruised, scraped, and terrified. What would become of her and her children? Why had this happened?
Two weeks later Rocío and I were talking. “How are you doing?” I asked her.
“I’m still a little sore, but most of the scrapes are healing,” she answered.
“I know the physical injuries will heal. But how are you doing inside, emotionally?” I asked.
“Sue,” she told me, “I’ve been thinking about what happened, and I’ve learned something about myself. I’m not as well as I thought I was. Spiritually, I mean.”
“What do you mean?” I asked her.
“Well, I mean, I thought I was doing okay. I know I’m a lot better now than I was awhile ago. Things aren’t any better financially, and my house still needs a lot of work, but I thought I was handling it. I’ve been doing my devotions, praying, and I’m getting more involved in the kids’ ministry. I thought I was doing well. But when the assault happened, do you know what my first thought was?”
“My first thought wasn’t, ‘God, please help me,’ or, ‘God, protect my children.’ Sue, I didn’t think of God at all. The only thing I thought of was the money in my purse and what would happen if I lost it. I wasn’t trusting in God; I was trusting in the money I had just gotten. When I realized that I was devastated. How can I teach small children to trust God when I don’t trust Him myself?”
I didn’t answer, mainly because I wasn’t sure what to say. But I didn’t need to say anything because Rocío continued. “Sue, I realize now that God allowed that assault to make me see what I was doing. I’ve been reading the Psalms in my devotions, but in all honesty, I was finding most of them pretty boring. But since the assault, I’ve found new meaning in them. For example, Psalm 18. What happened made me feel fear, the terror of the threat of losing my life. But here the psalmist expresses very clearly what God is like. If I feared that man, I should fear God even more since He is so much bigger and more powerful.
“After the day of the assault I was filled with panic when I thought about going out and walking along the same route I have to take every day to go to work. That sensation of terrifying loneliness echoed in my ears. I was alone and there was no one to defend me. Reading Psalm 27 made me feel and understand what David must have been going through and I made his declaration of faith mine: God is my light and my salvation. No matter what is going on around me, I am safe, standing on a rock, and I can see his goodness. This is the hope that gets me up every morning and gives me the courage I need to face each day.”
I walked away from that conversation not exactly happy for what had happened to my friend, but thankful for what God was doing in her because of it.
-Written by Susan Querfeld, TEAM missionary in Peru
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