I’ve had the pleasure to meet a lot of different types of people this summer, as groups traveled down to Honduras to serve with Mission Lazarus in a variety of fashions. Some were here for the first time, their first mission trip or first time leaving the country; others were seasoned, well experienced, here for the 12th year, eager to share stories from their trips to Africa and Haiti and other rural, “worse” places. Regardless of their experience, the feeling you get when you’re looking at a problem and you don’t have the resources to solve it is a common thread; “it’s like trying to empty the ocean with an eye dropper in the pouring down rain.”
The first time I heard this phrase, the visual really hit me. Yes, that is how some days feel here. And then I heard it again, and again, and again. I thought, how can there be so much need in some places that its overwhelming? Our God did not create his children and this world and forget to create enough resources to shelter, feed and clothe them all. He is a wise, all-knowing God. That’s not on Him, that’s on us.
This phrase isn’t limited to the scope of international missions; it applies to all of us, everywhere, day to day. When you’ve worked nonstop all day and the job isn’t even halfway done, when you’ve shuffled money around in as many ways as possible and you still come up short at the end of the month, when you are giving your all and yet nothing has changed, your efforts feel dry, without impact. These are God-sized problems.
So frequently, we don’t have to worry about where the next meal comes from, if we will be able to cover all our bills this month. We manage all of this on our own, we almost don’t need God. And we can get so wrapped up in our abilities and our strength that we think its up to us to do everything. So when there is a problem, our natural reaction is the same, to take care of it ourselves. We forget these problems, all problems, all things are only solvable by His provision. Two things for thought.
One, You can only do as much as you can do. God did NOT put you in front of the ocean and say, empty this by sundown. If He brought you to the ocean to work, He expects you to work at it with all your heart to your best ability, but does not expect you fix everything on your own. Know what your responsibility is to the situation. Don’t hold yourself to an expectation that God does not even hold you to. You are a human, it is not your job to fix everything and make it perfect. It that were true, we wouldn’t be so desperate for Jesus.
Two, Once you’ve done all you can do, give it to God. Use what you can to do all you can, and trust that He will come through for the rest in His timing. This is my grand lesson of last week. I am here in Honduras to work with a vocational program from young boys in leather, and last week, we found out that finances for the ministry are simply too tight to continue providing the lunch meal and weekly stipend to the boys who attend our program. With 55 boys in the program at $1.15 for each, we just didn’t have the resources to continue, so the program would continue, but the meals and stipends would be suspended.
I was devastated- crying in my room, couldn’t sleep, sick to my stomach. I mean, I know these boys by name, I understand the economic situation of their families, the impact that stipend has on their ability to receive education and vocational training, to provide food for their families. See, without a program like this that pays them a stipend for attending, they wouldn’t be able to attend. They would have to find a job to earn this money from somewhere else so that their family can eat. Which means they won’t receive education past 6th grade, they won’t receive a hot meal, a daily devotional, a connective network of trusted mentors and friends, a skill they can master and later use to support themselves. My heart sank, knowing that without a stipend to give to our students, many would have no other option but to leave the program to find work elsewhere. It’s not that they wouldn’t want to stay, but that they simply couldn’t.
I looked at the situation and felt so small. What can I do to help them? I could afford to sponsor 1 or 2 kids, maybe the whole program for a week. But what about the rest of the weeks this year? What about the following two years of the program? How can we get them to graduation in 2018 if we can’t get food in their bellies today?
God sized problem.
God did not ask me to fund their program costs for the next two years. He asked me to do as much as I can in the best ways that I can in the time that I am here. And that looks like developing a strong system for production, so that our graduates have consistent work orders to fulfill and can earn more. It looks like seeking out and developing relationships to sell old product, money that’s been tied up in inventory. It looks like planning for the future, identifying what the market at home looks like and serving to connect these ideas to our product makers here, providing them access to a market who can pay them fairly for their craft. It looks like creating strategies for current sustainability and future scalability for the program. These are my responsibilities.
So when faced with this seemingly insurmountable struggle of finances, my dear friends MZ and Kirk took initiative. We may not have the ability to fund this program, but we do have friends who care as much for these students as we do. We can do our part to spread the word that we need help and support and leave the rest at the feet of The Lord. These boys matter so much to us, imagine how much they matter to Our Father. In just one week of social media campaign regarding the program’s lacking of funding, we received enough funding to last through the rest of 2016!
God sized solution.
It is not our job to figure out how to fill a grand need, or how to fix a large problem. It’s our job to do our best with what we have and trust the rest to God. It’s not your job to change the world, but to be at work in the world daily. It’s the buildup of small contributions, tiny victories, that creates a lasting and impactful change. Whatever is in front of you, no matter how big or seemingly insurmountable, it’s not up to you. You are asked to work diligently and daily towards your goal with all you have, and leave the gaps to God, trusting Him to be sufficient. Let go of your hold on life and watch how His will covers.