Every March and April, I wonder why I live in Cambodia. It's the hot season, so it feels like the whole country is an oven set to preheat, slowly warming as the sun reaches its zenith. By the afternoon, we're well onto the broil setting, and it's uncomfortable to be outside, to move too much, and sometimes even to sleep.
My life has felt this way a lot in the last month as well. I've been back in Cambodia for nearly three months now, and it seems like the hectic pace that existed when I arrived has only escalated. The gears of my work and life are turning faster and faster, there's more to do, and more to worry over. I'm sure many of you feel it, too, maybe in relationships, your children's lives, or your own work.
In a job where it's easy to feel essential to "serving people" or "helping others," it's hard to stop and rest sometimes. I have trouble during these times taking the Father at his word: Be still, and know that I am God. How am I supposed to rest when there is so much to be done? Of course, God is faithful in His response, and I have to learn to trust that as well: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord will accomplish His purposes—with or without my help—and my responsibility is to pursue stillness, rest, and trust.
In Cambodia, it's common for people to take a siesta after lunch, which is typically the hottest part of the day. When things are most oppressive, that is when it is time to stop and rest. It's a lesson for me to take to heart, that when my life feels like it is too hot to handle, then it is time for a brief rest. It's also the time to remember the end of Psalm 46: The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. We really can trust the Lord with our times of rest, to be our protector, and to work everything out.
I started this reflection before my vacation, and since coming back, it has felt even more true. Before I left, I was tentatively planning on having a volunteer here to help with a lot of the busyness that always comes up in May as we prepare for the ESL teams that come in June. But while I was gone, I received an email saying that she felt that God had other plans for her, and was directing her away from Cambodia.
While I refuse to be angry at someone for being obedient, it's still a bit difficult to accept on my end. I took my rest this month thinking that God would provide for me in ways I expected, and that His will perfectly coincided with my own. I'm a bit at a loss now, both wondering why it is that the Lord would not provide something that would allow me to rest more easily, and struggling to choose to rest in Him when I feel like things just got much harder for me. It would be very easy for me to believe that God doesn't want me to have any help right now, to be shortsighted in how I regard God's ability to provide what I need in the next few months.
A good friend prayed these verses for me yesterday: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength… Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!" (Isaiah 30:15,18). Today, I'm taking comfort in the truth of these words: that my strength comes in trusting a just God, in waiting for His grace in this situation. And that only by truly resting in Him, can I witness his compassion and provision in my life.
I guess, in a sense, I'm choosing to take my siesta, my rest, even while the hot sun is beating down on me.