Sunday, January 22, 2017

"The Fruit of Patience is Sweet"

“And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished…” Philippians 1:6a

My friend, Shukria, used to eke out a living weaving beautiful Persian carpets by hand. She told me it took a long painstaking time to complete one carpet. When it comes to sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with Muslim women I remind myself that God is also patiently at work weaving a masterpiece for His glory.

I met Nosheen twenty five years ago. In the beginning our friendship seemed promising but then life became busy and challenging for her. Over the years I would keep in touch with an occasional visit but it really felt like everything was over. I would get discouraged and wonder what the point was to keep investing in her life. Then suddenly the Holy Spirit brought about an abrupt change. I’m glad I stayed in the picture. Today I am amazed at what is happening spiritually in Nosheen’s life.

Many of us start out befriending Muslim women with great enthusiasm but it doesn’t take long until our initial interest in our friends’ lives starts to wane. There appears to be minimal progress spiritually. We lose patience. We need to understand that our Muslim friend is on a l-o-n-g journey. If she has come and settled in a western nation it usually takes years to rebuild her life. Perhaps she has to learn English, take courses to gain a marketable skill, learn to drive, or prepare for becoming a citizen.  Maybe she was never empowered. It will take a lengthy time to become more independent and empowered. It’s possible she has endured domestic abuse but now finally grasps that it doesn’t have to remain that way for her. Then she has typical parenting concerns of trying to keep her children on a moral path and not lose them to sexual permissiveness. Uppermost in her mind is a determination that her children become successful. All her energies and thoughts go into that goal. A serious spiritual quest is put on hold. It is not always this way but often it does go like this.

 We wonder why she doesn’t respond to the gospel after we have been with her a few months. We conclude she isn’t responsive, interested, or is resistant. Most of the time that is not the case. Usually it is because she is trying her very best to survive and is preoccupied with her children becoming successful. More than anything she craves stability and security. When things begin to settle down she will be able to process more. It takes time. The process can not be rushed. We are ready but she is not. When it comes to sharing Jesus, our Savior, with a Muslim friend we need to pursue loving her sincerely and think long term. There's an Urdu proverb which says, "sabar ka phal meetah hai" - or "the fruit of patience is sweet."  One day the spiritual quest which was put on hold for so many years could suddenly move forward. You will be thankful you stayed in the picture. The Holy Spirit completes what He starts. Some women I have known for two or three decades are beginning to awaken spiritually. Are you willing to be patient?

Dear heavenly Father, I feel like giving up with my Muslim friend. Please give me more patience.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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