1. Haan, Julie De
  2. Friesen, Pamela K.

Article Content

Devotional: How Does God Care for Us in Challenges?

Pamela K. Friesen

Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.

Uganda in January! No better time to leave the cold Midwestern United States and step into summer. I had anticipated this experience for months as I prepared to travel to a Ugandan university where I would teach master's students in a course I had taught at my own school of nursing. The course is designed for online collaborative exchange of presentations and discussion forums, so I knew it was time for me to travel to work with Ugandan students. I had never been to Uganda; this was a new opportunity. Thankfully, God provided a colleague from my school and her husband to travel with me.


The semester started well with my colleague and I working with the Ugandan faculty and the master's students. Because this course had an online component, there was technology to arrange with the students I was to teach. They had never been in a course structured with Moodle, an online course platform. My colleague was the technology guru; I was thankful for her support. I also anticipated a month of seeing Uganda through her eyes, as she traveled to this country several times yearly.


The first week went well, and I was gradually getting to know my five students and the other educators. The students had class the first Saturday and then came to my colleague's home to have their pictures taken to be posted online. During the time we were outside taking the pictures, we heard my colleague's husband call out from inside only to find that he had fallen in the house. At that point, I knew God had changed the course of events for our time in Uganda. What happened following that event showed me a new dimension of God's care and love for me, even when I was passing through the waters, overflowing rivers, and fire (Isaiah 43:2).


My colleague and her husband had to return to the United States, as he needed surgery. When I realized they were leaving, my heart was gripped with fear, not knowing how I was going to manage teaching in a country where I had never been. I thought, "God, what are you doing? Do you really think I am strong enough to carry this load? Why have you taken away my support system?"


The purpose God had for me in those next three weeks was much greater than I could have imagined. He knew I needed to learn total dependency on him and what it means when he says, "Fear not, for I am with you" (Isaiah 43:5). I didn't want to just survive for the three weeks, I wanted to thrive with God's help and be the best facilitator for the students' learning.


God walked through those weeks with me in incredible ways. He provided experts within the Ugandan university to assist with technology, and Ugandan faculty became strong colleagues and friends. The master's students were diligent and worked hard. God also provided a couple from the United States, who became a primary source of support. But most of all, he provided many Ugandan friends at the guesthouse, who became my family.


Like the disciple Peter, I had to have the faith to step out of the boat into the raging sea (Matthew 14:22-34), go to Uganda, and trust God to see me to safety. I found that by keeping my eyes on him, he saw me safely through.


Is There a Plan?

Does God have a plan when he totally changes the course of events in our lives? Can we really trust him in the midst of circumstances that seem overwhelming and fear-producing? We can answer "yes" to these questions, based on the promises he gives us: "I will be with you... the rivers will not overwhelm you, you shall not be burned... the flame will not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Isaiah 43:2-3).


If God Allows the Challenge, He'll Carry You Through It.

Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.