It was a day of challenges in little daily things. We’re talking one of those where I thought several times, This shouldn’t be this difficult.
The first task was simple enough: go to the grocery store. I’ve done this literally more times than possible to count.
To add a small level of complication, there was a particular grocery store I wanted to go to in order to buy ground beef. (Yes, ground beef is elsewhere but I like this store for ground beef.) Still, the store is about two miles from my home. This shouldn’t be difficult.
Oh. But it would be.
Back up to Saturday. I leave a speaking engagement and attempt to take a normal route home in the car. I discover road and bridge construction have destroyed (yes, destroyed) the normal route with utter ridiculousness that is now our road situation.
A drive that should have taken about 10 minutes ended up taking a solid 30 minutes of rerouting and merging and reminding myself this is nice quiet time to myself in the car.
Developing-Country Drama, Continued
Saturday night, as I consider my upcoming trip to the grocery store, I realize it will take me to the same area as earlier in the day. And I realize that I don’t know if I can find a normal way home.
Yes, of course I would eventually make it back home, but at what cost, i.e. my sanity?
I decided instead to go to a different grocery store (where I would not be able to buy the ground beef but at least most other items) that would allow me to avoid all that awful road stuff.
But it would not.
They’ve changed the roads on that side of town as well. U-turns have been blocked, medians changed, intersections rerouted. We managed. Since I had the kids with me, God reminded me to keep a sense of humor (thank you, Lord, for arranging that).
But still: This shouldn’t be this difficult.
I thought about these adventures later, as I’m apt to do. I thought about the challenges to daily life here.
Yet is it fair for me to assume these little things shouldn’t be this difficult? Is this suffering?
Is This Suffering?
For people coming from a first-world country, these developing-country issues sure feel like suffering. My ability to navigate freely and know what to expect, my right to be able to choose and go where I want to when I want to go, my comfort and convenience, all taken away.
But all I have to do is look up from my own annoyance and witness countless examples of true suffering.
I’m talking suffering that won’t be relieved by new roads and updated maps. Suffering that breaks my heart. That I’m not able to change.
I’m talking suffering that begs the questions, What is the point? Where is the hope?
When I sit with my thoughts and allow my soul to speak, I’m thankful that I cannot surround myself with convenience and easily forget what suffering is. I’m thankful to be faced with my ridiculous complaints and annoyances.
I’m thankful to have to wrestle with hope and to wait, always expecting, for what the Lord will do in the midst of suffering.
Lest I leave you with the impression that I’m more polished than I am, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still quick to be annoyed. Developing-country patience is still a growing virtue.
Who knew road construction would be part of my sanctification?
Sarah serves in Egypt with her husband and four children. Catch her blog here.
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