Haiti is one of the most difficult assignments for our MAF missionaries. The lifestyle in Port-au-Prince is challenging. It’s a large metropolitan area with constant traffic, poor infrastructure, and a lack of standard amenities—pot holes that could swallow up small children, intermittent electricity, and congested traffic that makes Los Angeles roads seem like wide open freeways. Even on the best day, life is tough.
A westerner glancing around any random section of Port-au-Prince can’t help but sense the overwhelming hopelessness exuded by the Haitians walking down the road and lingering in the crowded tent cities housing those who lost their homes in the earthquake. But then you notice a smile, a respite from the daily struggle. There’s a grin and then a laugh—and a face just lights up.
Consider the Apostle Paul’s words:
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Philippians 4:11-12 (ESV)
What was Paul’s secret? How did he discover joy in Christ whether he was preaching to hundreds of people or unjustly sitting in a prison cell?
Being content is the secret. It’s how we experience the joy of the Lord in what others might consider horrible circumstances. Yet when we know that God has us in a place for a reason—and we seek to understand that reason and obey—we can find joy, too.
There are times when I reflect on my past assignment in Haiti with wonder. Only God could have given me the strength to endure there with a cheerful spirit. Then there were the times when I saw joy shining on the face of a Haitian who undoubtedly had a rough life. That’s when I was reminded that true joy is not found in “blessed circumstances” but in our diligence to obey God’s call, no matter where we are or what we are doing.