Last year around Christmas time I had the awesome opportunity to go on a mission trip to Mexico. It was my fifth time to go on this same mission trip, but no matter how many times I go, I still get as giddy as if it were my first trip. International Missions is where God has hidden my heart, so it is natural for me to go on mission trips frequently.
However, this specific trip was different. I had just graduated college. I wasn’t “tied down” anymore. I was pumped and chomping at the bit to head out on the mission trip (and hopefully the long-term mission field eventually). When we got there, I was hopeful and eager.
One day, we went out to go door-to-door and share the Gospel with people. We encountered a lot of stories of Cartel kidnappings and vicious murders in this neighborhood. Normally this doesn’t bother me. At the risk of sounding “holier than thou,” I felt and still feel if God wants me in harm’s way then that is really the safest place to be. The most dangerous place is to be outside of the will of God.
After hearing all day about these incidents, I hit my bunk that night a little shaken. I laid awake for hours past Lights Out. I was so confused. I faced the same question that every single person in the world faces at some point: “Why are bad things happening to good people?”
Why, Father, are you letting these faithful believers see their daughters be taken and abused by these evil men? Why are you letting these good men be beaten and blackmailed by these unlawful abusers?
There in the middle of the church gym floor on my air mattress, I searched through scriptures for an answer. I came to Habakkuk – a simple, short, and often a seemingly inapplicable book of the Bible. I read a verse I had highlighted a long time ago, “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds. O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.”
Habakkuk’s complaint wasn’t much different from Hannah’s (mine). Through the whole book, Habakkuk is pleading, complaining to God for mercy on the faithful. The last part of the passage seemed to stick in my head, “In wrath remember mercy.”
Then it hit me. I deserve hell. There is no difference between the Cartel and me. There is no difference between ISIS and me, or Sex Traffickers and me. The renowned verse, John 3:16, doesn’t say “For God so loved the naturally kind people,” or “For God so loved the ethical workers.” It says “For God so loved the World”.
The Lord’s answer was plain. I deserve the wrath of God. I deserve an eternity in separation from the One True God Almighty. And yet He chose me to be his own child, royalty. I left that mission trip with a whole new sense of humility. When you realize how much grace has been lavished on you, you can’t help but live every day with gratitude. God is always good. We must live as though each day and each situation were God’s mercy gifts to us.