Archives for March 18, 2013

My Exceeding Joy

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It’s been another back-breaking day for me without househelp. At one point Sunday morning, I wanted to cry out of self-pity. But God used Edan to minister to me in a very uncanny way. He went to play the piano (something he rarely does these days), and the first song he played was “The Joy of the Lord Is My Strength.” I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even realize he knew that song. The message was loud and clear: Despite the present circumstances, I can have joy…an inexplicable joy, because of the Lord.

The boys helped me with chores. Edric has been incredibly sweet and patient. He loves it when I serve him. But we both know that this isn’t sustainable. With four young children, homeschooling, ministry, house-building, work-stress (more so for him than for me), and oh yah, I’m nearly 5 months pregnant…this is a temporary phase. While I enjoy being in charge of the home and being this hands on, I won’t be able to do this for an indefinite period of time. For one thing, it kills my back. I am having more frequent bouts with the excruciating pain that scoliosis inflicts as my pregnancy belly grows bigger.

How did we ever get into this predicament of no househelp, anyway? Just a week ago, I had three yayas! Now, I am down to one and she is on vacation. A short one. I do hope she comes back, too.

Over the past couple of months, I have had one disappointing experience after another when it comes to hiring househelp. I’ve had to laugh out loud at the comedy of it all. God has allowed us to have so many fails when it comes to hiring yayas. From one lady eating the kids’ snacks and juice drinks without conscience, to the same person abusing my kindness, to another needing to return home because of a crying husband, to another having to leave because her mother is a stroke victim, to one who almost gave Titus a bath in the sink, to a current yaya whose abrasive and panicky personality can offend others who work with her (she is currently on vacation), well, I must say that this cannot be coincidental.

When Edan got on the piano and played that song, I knew that God was dealing with my heart. He IS dealing with my heart. Present-tense. This is a character building experience for me. God has blessed me with a comfortable and easy life. Just the other day I was telling Edric how much I appreciate him for working so hard so I can enjoy a stress-free existence. And then, WHAM! Yaya, yaya, yaya, yaya madness. This is a divinely ordained trial so that I can grow in character!

My great temptation is to complain. But when I pause to contemplate the spiritual aspect of what’s going on, there is blessing in all this discomfort, in the annoyances I would rather not have to put up with. For one thing, I felt the very tender presence of the Lord as I was frying bacon and flipping pancakes on Sunday morning before church. As I lingered on the verge of self-pity, I was consoled by the reality that “Lord, you are all I need. I can do this if you are with me. I know you are always with me.”

Today, while washing dishes, mopping the floor, bathing the kids, picking up after them and with them, cleaning the toilets, wiping, sweeping, and cooking, the Lord has been my song and my happiness. He has made me smile even during moments when my back couldn’t take it anymore.

When I was rinsing off plates after lunch, I could hardly move my left leg. Boy, did I want to cry from the pain. Elijah came over to hug me because he heard me wincing. I just prayed, “Lord you have to help me.” The pain subsided.

During these past few days of what I would deem as a measure of suffering (a small measure in comparison to others but it still feels like a cross to bear, none the less), God has brought to mind the story of my grandfather and father who have been such good examples to me when it comes to joyfulness.

Many, many years ago, my grandfather was the owner of one the biggest textile mills in the Philippines. He had come from China and through hard work and perseverance, built an “empire.” This was back in the 1960s and early 70s. He even had an office in the Empire State Building. My father told me he grew up with a “platinum spoon.”

However, due to untoward circumstances and a corrupt government, my grandfather lost almost everything. It was humbling for my dad’s family, but my dad speaks of that time as one of the biggest blessings in his own life.

My dad started his own business and God gave him a burden to start a ministry to business people. As a self-supporting pastor, he began meeting with a group of businessmen back in the early 1980s, and with them started a church called Christ Commission Fellowship. Today, nearly 29 years later, CCF is a movement of close to 50,000 Christ-committed followers, with churches planted all over the Philippines and even abroad.

I am sharing this because God causes all things to work together for good. He is never surprised by the catastrophic (big and small) events that happen in our lives. He is always in control, always at work to bring about his greater purposes. If my dad had kept working for my grandfather’s company, he would not have started his own successful business in land development. But more significantly, he would have been deaf to the call of the Lord to ministry.

One of the things that this life lesson taught him that he has passed on to me and my siblings is the importance of perspective. He told me that his father (my grandfather) never once bad-mouthed anyone or developed bitterness about the loss of his business. He did not harbor resentment toward those who did him wrong. And when he was slighted and humiliated afterwards, he did not react in anger. To this day, my 93-year old grandfather is a happy person. He can’t remember who most of us are, but he is not a cranky, old man!

Because of my grandfather’s example and God’s grace, my dad is very much like my grandfather. He is a thankful, joyful person, even during unfavorable circumstances. After watching his testimony closely over years, I know that it is the joy of the Lord that makes him this way. The right perspective on people and experiences allows him to process things in a spirit-filled manner.

When I think about this story, I am reminded to count my own blessings. Admittedly, I am very discouraged and disappointed with the inefficiencies and undependability of those that have worked for me as of late, but I have so much to be thankful for. Edric, the kids, and I – our family unit – we are okay, in tact, at peace. Love and laughter abound. I am pregnant but God gives me the physical strength to do all the chores I have to. There are four young children to attend to, but they do not give me heartache. Today, we didn’t get to homeschool, but we re-arranged their book cabinet and they all took care of one another. We can make it up another day. I feel tired and spent, but no time has been wasted on idle activities. In other words, I am managing just fine by God’s grace.

Would I prefer that my situation were otherwise? Certainly! But God gives me reason to rejoice. He is my exceeding joy! Psalm 43:4 says, “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and upon the lyre I shall praise you, o my God, my God.”

I do not know what will happen in the days to come in terms of our househelp situation, but in the meantime, I am enjoying being sustained and upheld by the Lord.

Psalm 90:14 “O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”