Eternal Perspective

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By KB

Slightly over two weeks ago, I returned from a week in Zeway, Ethiopia. During my time there, I experienced the stark contrast between poverty and wealth, sickness and health, desperation and hope. For most of the children I visited, the only reason they are able to survive at all is because this program provides for their basic needs. Even with the food, clothing, rent, etc. that is provided by Hope in Ethiopia, they are undeniably poor and living in difficult conditions. We met multiple HIV+ children, whose sickness not only wreaks havoc on their bodies but also on their social status. Some families have homes in very poor condition, or must move frequently in order to stay housed. Throughout the community, there is hunger, disease, poverty, homelessness, and death. That is daily life for the people of Zeway. Yet Zeway is not devoid of hope or joy.

Here at home, most of us don’t encounter absolute poverty at any point in our lives, let alone each day. Therefore, when we are faced with situations like those in Zeway, we are shocked, heartbroken, and maybe appalled. And that is ok. We should use those emotions to motivate us to advocate for those who need it. However, when we allow those emotions to transform into worry, anxiety, or despair, we need to stop and reflect. Because this is not all there is.

You see, it wasn’t the images of severe poverty or even of grave illness that imprinted themselves on my heart two weeks ago. It was the hope and joy that I often saw in the midst of those circumstances, namely in the faces of those who were followers of Jesus. In that environment of hunger, sickness, and death, the people of Zeway have few if any false notions of personal control over their circumstances. Facades and fake smiles have no place there, because they don’t provide food or heal sickness. All veils and distractions have been stripped away, and what remains is reality. Yet for many of the kids in our program, there is not just an earthly reality, but a heavenly one. And perhaps because, not in spite, of their circumstances, their knowledge of and hope in eternity is a more intimate and real one than I have ever known.

They know a Jesus who is more powerful than hunger, disease, poverty, homelessness, and even death. And His power is not just to change those hardships on earth, but more importantly to eternally reward and exalt those who love Him so that all the hardships they experience on earth are simply “light and momentary troubles”. The followers of Jesus in those one-room houses in Zeway understand that and it is their reality. Because of that, they radiate joy, hope, and purpose. Jesus is not an add-on; He is the Only. There is nothing else to cling to, no other sources of eternal provision. I want to know Jesus like that. I want to view eternity as my resting place and my true home. And though I have more obstacles and distractions in my life that my keep me from that, I can know Jesus like that, because in reality He is the one true Savior and nothing else can take His place.

My week in Ethiopia gave me valuable insight into the lives and souls of the precious children we support, and invaluable insight into who Jesus is and the hope that He alone can bring. My prayer as I continue processing is that the Holy Spirit will continue to strip away the distractions that keep me from depending on Christ only. I pray that I will be able to believe and act as Paul describes in 2 Cor. 4:16-18:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV)

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