This Christmas season, we wanted to share this story with you from our Cypriot brother, Emanuel. Thank you to our partners at Every Home for Christ for sharing Emanuel’s story.
My Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Suffering is one of the most important themes that we should focus on as Christ’s followers. We hear a lot of stories of people suffering from diseases, anxiety, depression, loneliness, hunger… I’m not exaggerating if I say that we meet these kinds of people almost every day. Most of the time, we return home with tears in our eyes but also gratitude for God’s faithfulness to His children.
I just returned from visiting a lady whose husband came to know Jesus as his Savior through our ministry. His name is Georgos Valiantis. His wife, Anna, is resisting the Gospel. She thinks of Jesus as a god among the many gods she worships. Anna recently began suffering from a significant health issue as well as anxiety and depression. She experiences angry outbursts, shouting incoherently at her husband without realizing what she is doing. Georgos is praying, asking the Lord to touch her heart. He’s in real pain, suffering with her.
I was encouraging Georgos, reminding him of Jesus, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Jesus might not change the circumstances around us, but He will be with us. Georgos said, “Although most of the time I don’t understand how God works, I will continue to trust Him and rely on His grace.”
In these cases, God taught us to listen more, cry with people, and hug them, even before we start to encourage them. In the past, I was always quick to talk, but now God has helped me to be quick to listen, to grieve before I open my mouth.
My wife and I have also passed through and are still passing through difficult days. We have been praying for a long time to have a baby. Many people have mocked us, saying, “If you believe in God, why didn’t He give you a child?” These words have caused us to cry like babies ourselves, for it is not easy to teach others God’s Word, including children, when we don’t have a child of our own to tell about Jesus, or read stories to, or play with…
I will be honest with you: Do you know how many times I have gone to sleep angry with God? Many times. But I try to encourage my wife with God’s Word. We have nothing to stand on except Christ and His words. As the old hymn says, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” God is helping us see things through His eyes, to be saturated in Him, for He is our Refuge, the Anchor of our souls. We can say with Paul, “His grace is sufficient for us, for His power is made perfect in weakness… For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
In the peace of Christ,
Whatever suffering you may be facing this holiday season, we pray you experience the presence, peace, and comfort of Christ in powerful ways. We’re so thankful for Emmanuel, God with us.
The Doulos Partners Team