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External Sufferings and Inner Joy 

After a flight of almost two and half hours from Karachi, the plane landed at the Katmandu International airport in the capital of the kingdom of Nepal. My host was waiting for me. It was June 21, 2004, when Lord granted me the opportunity to serve Him in Nepal.

The total area of the kingdom is 150,000 square kilometers. Mount Everest, the highest   mountain in the world, is located in this nation. Its peak stands 8850 meters above sea level. I saw the top of Mount Everest from the window of my airplane. The distance from east to west in Nepal is 885 kilometers and from south to north it measures 193 kilometers. The total population of Nepal is 25 million. Nepal is the only Hindu state on the face of earth, where the Hindu population is 88%. A handful of Christians in 1950 have grown to half a million living there now. There are about 200 house churches around the Katmandu ring road. An old lady happily told me that 50 years ago there were only a handful of Christians in Nepal but now the body of Christ is growing very fast.

In this new place the Lord was about to lead me through experiences that inspired and motivated me greatly, and helped me to experience God more deeply. During my ten day visit in Nepal, on the second to last day my host took me to a place called Khokana. In Khokana with my physical eyes I saw man’s helplessness, disappointment, hopelessness and pain. But with my spiritual eyes saw God’s love, glory, praise, thankfulness, and His grace. Khokana is a place where a large number of residents are lepers. The Lord gave me an opportunity to spend some time in that colony with those lepers. I experienced great things there.

(1)   Hospitality in the Sufferings

“Practice Hospitality…” (Romans 12:13). “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was stranger you invited me in” (Matthew 25:35).

Almost all the congregation at Khokana consisted of lepers. Their pastor was a leper. I preached there. After the service the pastor and his wife loving invited us to their home. He was a middle aged man and because of his leprosy his physical condition was bad. But his wife was healthy. Regardless of their circumstances, they were very hospitable; they prepared tea, presented some biscuits and boiled eggs for us to eat.

A lot of Christians are healthy, financially very sound and prosperous yet they are not hospitable. Sometimes the host and his family are so engrossed in a TV program or some other activity that they completely neglect the guests and the servants of God alike.

These lepers were extremely poor people, cut off from the community; yet their hospitality showed that their hearts were overflowing with thankfulness.

(2)  Thankfulness in the Sufferings

Rejoice in the Lord always, I say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with

thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4: 4-6).

“With thanksgiving…” These words may be very easy to say or read but it is difficult to put them into practice. But by the grace of God we can be thankful in everything. I spent some time with two lepers. They were both dressed in white. On their heads were Nepalese caps. They were wearing black waist coats. Both of them were in their mid fifty’s. I went to the house of one of them; his wife was completely deformed due to leprosy and could not work. One of the two lepers could not even tie his belt. The other had lost one third of both his feet. He was wearing specially designed shoes. He had great difficulty in coming down from the mountain. His eyes were red and swollen, his face had been badly affected by leprosy and his features were not clear. Externally their conditions were pathetic and one would feel sorry for them. But it was apparent from their conversation that their inner beings were full of thanksgiving and joy. I was blessed and refreshed through their fellowship. May God open our inner eyes and may we spend our lives with a spirit of thanksgiving, for this is what God desires of us!

Saint Paul Writes, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1Thessalonians 5:18). From a human point of view, thanksgiving is only possible when we are physically and materially satisfied and feel that we have everything that we need. Sometimes we start accumulating wealth and materialistic things. I am not saying that we should not have what we need and always be in want. We should have enough so that one’s needs may be easily met. It is not bad even if we have more than what we need because we can give that for the work of the Lord. But sometimes we are focused only on earning and accumulating wealth.

Agur, son of Jakeh wrote, “Two things I asked of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, who is the Lord? Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”  (Proverbs 30:7-9)

We must have faith that God will divinely fulfill all our needs in time. Such faith, confidence, and thanksgiving enable us to return to God whatever blessings He has bestowed upon us.

(3)      Giving in Sufferings

·        It is very difficult to give for God’s work.

·        For a natural man or a materialistic person giving is like separating a nail from the tip of his finger.

·        Giving is a painful process.

·        We do not want to go through the process of giving.

Jesus taught, “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).

Giving is a gift from the Holy Spirit. Many believers desire this gift for other believers but they avoid it for themselves. A leper sister, in spite of her poverty and old age, saved bit by bit from her meager income and gave her pastor 3000 Nepali Rupees. The pastor, who himself was a leper, did not spend that gift for his family or personal use, rather he bought a pulpit with that money and had that sister’s name inscribed on it.

“Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity” (2 Corinthians 8:2).

What sort of heart God has given to you?

Perhaps we thank God with our words, but when it comes to doing something practical we tell God how helpless we are and start counting all our needs before Him.

“God you know, I wanted to give to you this month but what can I do, my expenditures are so high that I was not able to save much.”

When it comes to giving to God it does not matter whether we give little or much. What really matters is our intention or motive. God wants us to give cheerfully, with the right motives and according to our income. God desires us to be hospitable even in suffering so that we are thankful amidst our pain and that we do not avoid giving to God in our sufferings.

Do you do so?

May God grant us His grace to do so.