“Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights.” (Psalms 119:143)
Not long after Mark and I finished language school we packed up all our belongings and put them on a 3 decker boat. I held on to Sam who was still just a baby and I walked across the wooden plank that spanned across the dark, murky water some 8 to 10 feet below between the floating dock and the boat. Mark led our other three little ones across one at a time as men formed a human chain and tossed crates of beer bottles to each other. I watched in amazement as more and more people flooded the dock with their bags and wares to take up river.
Trash, excrement, and lonely flip-flops floated in the water around the banks of the Rio Negro, the tributary where I would call home for many years to come. I put on a brave face and pretended that I wasn’t bothered by all the stares coming from the brown faces crowded around me. Mark finally led us to our room and thankfully we didn’t have to hang in hammocks that first 36 hour trip up the river. I walked inside the 6×6 little room that held a set of bunk beds and nothing else. The children climbed up on the top bed and began fussing over where each of them would sleep and Sam was hungry and had to be fed. I was tired, hot and sweaty but I knew it was time to suck it up and just do what needed to be done.
We arrived at our little jungle town and an old Datsun pick up truck drove us to our little yellow wooden house with red cement floors. Katie and Wyatt ran to the room all four of them would share while I situated the bags and waited for several hours while Mark loaded another truck with the rest of our things. Eventually we moved everything in the little house and life took over.
The village where we would plant our first church was another hour and a half up river but we didn’t even know about it yet. We helped in the little Baptist church in town as we acclimated to our new life.
One night at the close of the Sunday evening service, I hauled Sam and the other three kids out to my bike. I had gotten quite adept at riding the bicycle while carrying Sam on one hip and Katie sat on the back holding Amelia and Wyatt rode on the handle bars. I was adjusting everyone when all of a sudden I heard a woman screaming. Everyone ran out of the church to see what was the matter. The street in front of the church ran parallel with the river and there was a small hill leading up to where we were all standing.
The lady continued coming our way as she screamed in Portuguese with all her might, “NO! NO! NO! HE CAN’T DIE! HE ISN’T SAVED!” Women ran to her and I recognized her as one of the ladies from our church. Crowds were forming around her and people began rushing down the street towards the bank where the large river boat we had ridden on just a few months prior had just left to make the trip downriver.
Apparently, the woman, Mrs. Grace, was married to a boat captain of a smaller vessel that had gone down river to pick up a group of visiting doctors and nurses from the Capital. On the return trip as he navigated the waters back towards town, the larger 3 decker boat was headed his direction, but had lost power from it’s generator and was traveling in the dark. The two boats collided in the middle of the river before one could maneuver away from the other.
Mrs. Grace’s husband jumped free according to the doctors who had also managed to escape and swim to nearby trees hanging over the sides of the water. It was a confusing few moments as everyone realized what had happened and the captain dove back into the water to rescue his two year old son who had been sleeping in a hammock. Sadly, they both drowned as the boat drug them to the bottom.
Mark and every other man in town who had a boat headed out to rescue those who had jumped free and they searched for hours to no avail for the captain and his son. The following day my husband headed out at daylight to zig-zag across the waters looking for the father and son. Mark says he will never forget seeing the little boy floating in the middle of the waves made by the search boats. He pulled up along side and stopped his motor as the men in his boat lifted the child’s body into the boat and then carried him to the shore.
This was an awful tragedy for this dear sister in Christ to endure. She lost her son and also her husband in one night. But even worse, she knew her husband was unsaved and what he was suffering in death without Christ. Trouble and anguish had found her.
But do you know what this lady did? She grieved, but she didn’t let Trouble and Anguish become her captors. She wept as the bodies of her husband and son were laid to rest, but she didn’t allow the loss to consume her. She showed up at the church for every service, read her Bible and became a testimony of God’s grace……true to her name, Mrs. Grace.
Mrs. Grace had a choice as trouble and anguish found her. She could have become a bitter, sad, lonely old woman, but she grabbed hold of the Word of God and lived her life for the Lord. She found her delight in the only place that could help her, the Word!
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need to be reminded that my situation isn’t as bad as the devil makes me think it is. If I will keep my sights set in and through the Bible, I won’t become captive to the lies of the devil or his minions. They are rendered powerless at my trust in God’s Word. Fear is dispelled with each verse I read and claim.
Let’s dwell in the Word, even when trouble and anguish come and find us. Let’s not allow the enemy ANY chance to tug our thoughts in the wrong direction.
Until Next Time, Lord willing,