Our time in Egypt was kind of a strange season. I got sick our first week there, and struggled with my health on and off the whole time. It took 7 months to get a diagnosis. And even then, no treatment seemed to help that much. The underlying issue was stress and try as I might, I was never able to make it manageable. Where we worked had massive leadership changes that affected everything, and our team who were supposed to be our support, were burned out and exhausted and we barely saw or heard from them. There were constant struggles, more so than my time in the desert or South Sudan, and it felt like every other week there was another chair being pulled out from under us.
It was good. Of course it was good and rich. Of course there were friends, good times, and moments of deep satisfaction. Of course there are people and routines that we will miss, and more we wish we could have done. But it was also, probably, the most challenging 21 months of my life to date. And we left seeing things getting worse and not better.
We don’t really understand why it had to go down the way it did. Why my health and our friends had to suffer. Why we were thrown into this chaotic place after 9 months of exhausting, frantic travel. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But it also doesn’t feel like a mistake or accident. We don’t know what we would have done any differently.
And, truth be told, neither of us really needs to understand. We suspect we were at the refugee organization at a time when it needed extra outside support. We know we were able to at least delay, if not prevent, some really harmful changes. We know we were able to help some friends at some really important junctures. We were able to keep some things going strong as long as we could.
Even so, there is a lot we don’t understand. A lot that we look at and wonder why it had to happen the way it did. We carry disappointment. Along, of course, with gratefulness, enrichment, and stronger characters (we hope).
But…still. Disappointment lingers.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, what we now remember as Palm Sunday and call the Triumphal Entry, he instructed his disciples to go get a donkey. If anyone asked what they were doing, they were told to say, “The Lord needs it.”
We aren’t told if the owner of the donkey asks any questions, or if the disciples are just able to take it. But we are told that if he did ask, the explanation he gets isn’t very detailed. He was just told the Lord needed it. And that was it. That was to be enough.
Our time in Egypt feels similar. God was very evident in his leading us here. There is no mistaking that for us. He made it clear that he needed our donkey (us). We didn’t get much of an explanation, but for those 21 months the Lord wanted us here. He was clear in his leading and he was clear in his releasing. A lot of the middle bit seems fuzzy, but we know he needed our donkey, even if we aren’t exactly sure why.
And…that’s enough. We don’t demand a longer explanation. We know there is so much in life we will never understand. We are broken from that time, but we are grateful. We are honored that God chose to use our donkey where and when he did. And we’re sure he’ll need what we have to give again. I hope so. We ache to be useful, but more, to be faithful.
May we be like the owner of that donkey, and give to the Lord what he asks of us without need for explanation or understanding.