Dealing with cultural issues…If you are living in a country that is not your own, you will deal with these from time to time. These issues can be very irritating. I describe them as pebbles in your shoe: small, but terribly annoying, even painful.
Let me give you a little background information. This is our second term in this country. We spent 3 years in another city, 3 years stateside and we are finishing our 4th year in this city. There are some things that contribute to the irritations that I face. One is my age. No matter how willing I am, I find that change becomes more difficult the older that I become. A second factor is that I am the “new kid on the block.” My husband’s parents and brother’s family are nearby. My hubby is a missionary kid from this country. It is his home. My husband’s parents have been here over 35 years. His brother’s family has been here over 20 years. They are all very comfortable here, but I am in the adjustment period. I struggle with this very difficult language. I can sit in a meeting for 2 hours and understand very little. Each city in this country is different. Each has some unique twists in the culture and even has its own slang language. I’m not saying this to make you feel sorry for me, just to help you know where I am coming from.
Last Tuesday, we had the ladies Bible study. My hubby teaches it. I was quite clueless for most of it, so had my own little study. The Lord has ministered to my culture shocked soul in the past from the fruits of the Spirit. That day, He did it again. I have a study Bible that I love. The notes are thorough and often instruct me. Such was the case that day.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”~Galatians 5:2-23
Joy-“…the sense of well being experienced by one who knows all is well between himself and the Lord (I Pet. 1:8). Joy is not the result of favorable circumstances, and even occurs when those circumstances are the most painful and severe (John 16:20-22). Joy is a gift from God, and as such, believers are not to manufacture it but to delight in the blessing they already possess (Rom. 14:17; Phil. 4:4).”
Peace-“The inner calm that results from confidence in one’s saving relationship with Christ. The verb form denotes binding together and is reflected in the expression ‘having it all together.’ Like joy, peace is not related to one’s circumstances.”
Longsuffering-“…the willingness to accept irritating or painful situations (Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12; I Tim. 1:15-16).”
Gentleness(meekness)-“It is a humble and gentle attitude that is patiently submissive in every offense, while having no desire for revenge or retribution.” Three necessary attitudes are mentioned: submission to the will of God (Col. 3:12), teachability (James 1:21), and consideration of others (Eph. 4:2).
These fruits are something we acquire as we grow in our knowledge of God (2 Pet. 1:2). I am so thankful that I don’t have to conjure up these fruits. All I have to do is continue in God’s Word and He will give me these fruits.
I will close with something that a friend wrote in a farewell card to me over 10 years ago.
“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
“He who communes with God is always at home.” ~C.H. Spurgeon
~Notes are taken from the MacArthur Study Bible