Everyone has times in their lives where things look bleak. If you aren't presently in a valley you may be coming up on one. If you are in a valley, you may be going through marital troubles, job loss, financial strain, difficulties with your siblings or children, depression or just disillusionment with life. I admit that currently things are tough financially for us. We started our coffee ship ministry Java Journey two years ago after much soul searching and seeking God. He seemed to be with us...providing miraculous jobs, the right location and even sending people to give us advice along the way. All seemed to be sign posts affirming that we were taking the right direction. When we finally found the right location for the coffee ship, we couldn't get the remaining amount for a loan we needed to pay salary. The American economy was in the midst of tumbling, houses were being foreclosed left and right and no one could get loans, espcially a pastor and his wife who had never run a coffee business.
We sought God and felt he told us go ahead and use volunteers behind the counter. Only God could have had such a crazy idea. And, you know what? Much to our amazement, it worked. It has been an amazing ride. But for the past six months it has been a particular difficult and trying journey. I lost my full time job at the end of June and I was our main financial support (another one of God's miracles that he provided just when we needed it). Jeff mans Java Journey with the aid of volunteers and he receives no salary. I help out when I can. He does sports officiating on the side. I've turned my hand to what I do best, art, writing and entreprenuership. The problem is none of our financial endeavors provides steady income. It's a scary roller coaster ride.
Just weeks after I lost my job,our car's transmission went out so we had to put the little money we had saved into that. My brother, who suffers from schizophrenia, had a serious bout of instability and landed in the hospital. During that same week my mother, who was his financial manager, began showing serious signs of dementia. So my sisters and I were left dealing with two crises at once. Just last week we lost a crucial volunteer who opened Java at the crack of dawn so we had to cut back to later hours. Just before that the under counter fridge died, the espresso machine sprouted a leaky casket and the backed up toilet required $400 in Roto Router service only for us to be told that we needed to replace it. We also lost a major donor whose funds were helping us pay our mortgage. I won't go into a long list of everything that has gone wrong. There's plenty. But isn't that life anyway?
Even king Solomon, a man of renown wisdom and great wealth looked back on his life and noted the futile human struggle. Despite this rather bleak outlook, he left the door open for something better. Today's morning devotion from Ecclesiastes struck me. Solomon wrote "Anyone who is among the living has hope--even a live dog is better than a dead lion!"
So, here's to a new year for all the living dogs out there. Hold on and trust. Life is life--full of brokenness and struggles. But there is hope. Before long the cold winter will give way to spring and fresh life will force its way through the hardened earth. We have only to wait and hope to see what new surprises life brings and we have a greater hope that stretches far beyond this mortal existence. What better encouragement exists than that?