“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-11
Friends, it’s time that we level with you – bare our souls and hope for a compassionate ear. We are struggling. We are struggling mentally, physically, and financially. You could probably also say that we are struggling spiritually.
Mentally: We came down here with expectations that we would find a community of believers on campus who would welcome us, encourage us, take us under their wing, etc. While everyone is friendly, and we have several acquaintances, I (Jessi) at least still feel isolated and lonely. I don’t feel like I have a real friend that I can share all with or talk through a problem or a struggle with. I feel like the only solution I have is to withdraw into my little cocoon, yet I know that this isn’t healthy either, so I’m lost. And anxious.
tired exhausted. We’re either working very early shifts (Jessi) or late shifts (Guy) and not getting enough sleep. It’s nothing for one or both of us to come home during whatever small break in our day we have and take a nap because we have no energy to do what we need to be doing – studying, fixing dinner, cleaning the house. Jessi isn’t eating well because of school/work schedule and financial straits.
Financially: I’m so tired of requesting prayer for finances, but we’re almost underwater. Between no support from churches or family, jobs that don’t pay much, and shortage and uncertainty of hours per week, we’re not getting bills paid and are struggling to keep ourselves fed, clothed, and housed. We visited Guy’s job because, while he’s requested more hours and has cleared much of his schedule in order to be available, the hours he gets vary widely. We’re fortunate if he gets 21-22 hours, but we’ve had to face a few weeks of 11-14 hours per week. Jessi is maxed out right now at 19 hours a week due to her class schedule. We’ve applied for food stamps, but since we’re both students (and surely we’re getting support from somewhere to help us since our bills, etc. are higher than our income) we must work at least 20 hours a week to be eligible – per person. Jessi is strongly considering dropping classes this semester (if we can get at least some of the tuition cost dropped), and definitely next semester so that she can work. We are taking advantage of a food ministry on campus, but they can’t even provide enough food to last a family through the week, much less provide meat, dairy, and fresh fruits and vegetables. We can’t pay for any car work that may need to be done, we can’t pay for any dental issues that may arise, we can’t pay for any doctor’s bills that would come for Guy (Jessi gets medical care through VA) or medicine for either one of us, and we can’t pay for anything like new clothes or new shoes. We yearn to get our debts paid off, so that we don’t have them hanging over our heads anymore. We’re bare-bones now: we don’t have anything left to cut out, unless we can learn to live without running water, electricity, and heat/A/C (which the seminary won’t let us go without).
Spiritually: First and foremost, I want one statement to be heard loud and clear: WE ARE PRAYING about our situation. Second, we are trusting God to provide for us, and are trying to lean hard upon Him during this time. That being said, we are still fighting to understand, fighting to be strong, fighting to keep faith in the midst of all of this. God’s been calling us to change a lot of behaviors, attitudes, and thinking, and we’re wanting to follow Him. But our spiritual armor is getting quite soot-blackened from Satan’s fiery darts. We’ve got charred holes in our cape. Our shield is dinged and pitted, and the metal is wearing thin in places. We need encouragement from those around us, people who will come alongside us in this journey, with more advice than “Just pray about it.”
* Decisions regarding education. Jessi is strongly considering either dropping classes this semester or just not returning to school in the Spring due to financial stress. However, this will put her student loans into repayment, so we’re not sure that this will be much help, either.
* Decisions regarding our future. We’re still trying to figure out where God wants our ministry to be and what we are to do when there. He is showing us some things, but we’re still working through some others and searching yet more.
* Health. We are tired, constantly stressed, and feeling like we’re never getting enough sleep. Our bodies will only handle so much of this before we start getting sick. Please pray for burdens to be lifted and sickness not to happen.
* Peace and joy. It’s hard to find joy in trials, yet we are commanded to do so. Please pray that we can learn to approach our circumstances with joy, and find God’s peace in the midst of our storms.