At some stage in a marathon, the thought comes into every runnerâ€™s mind: â€˜This really hurts. Letâ€™s give up.â€™ The runner faces a choice: give up and avoid the pain, or carry on and finish the race.
Life can sometimes feel like a marathon; a painful, unforgiving slog. The BCT staff team have felt that very keenly in the last few weeks. Bereavements, family illnesses and financial worries have made life extremely painful, for a number of us. At times like these, itâ€™s tempting to focus on our own pain and give up trying to help other people. The problem is, unlike a marathon, if we give up, the pain doesnâ€™t end: we just stop making a difference to others.
Our partners arenâ€™t immune to lifeâ€™s pitfalls, either. Eklou-Ali, who heads up VINODI in Togo, was recently left reeling by a slipped disc. The intense physical pain made it extremely difficult for him to stand up, let alone continue his work with VINODI.
The apostle Paul knew plenty of hardship, and also how to persevere in serving God, when life hurts. He writes in Galatians: â€˜Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.â€™ (Gal 6:9)
Eklou-Ali is indeed seeing a harvest from his perseverance. 100 disadvantaged children in the community are benefiting from nutritious meals, support with their education, and access to proper medical care. Each of them is hearing and experiencing the love of God. Each of them is gaining a sense of hope for their future. And the atmosphere within the community of TseviÃ© is changing. (Eklou-Ali has also now received physiotherapy and is feeling better!)
God never promises us a life free from pain, and it is the great heresy of our time to say he does. But he does promise to be with us when life hurts, just as much as when it feels easy. And if we persevere in serving God, good things will come of it. Maybe one day, if weâ€™re lucky, God will allow us a glimpse of exactly what kind of harvest we have reaped. Â