You know, all things considered, God has and is blessing me abundantly with a place to live, clean water, health care, a good wife, and wonderful children. Many people of the earth don’t have those things: I understand that. I’ve heard from many hurting people and met and talked to many people who have deep hurts. I’ve talked to people whose young son was hit by a car and killed; and whose mother was crippled for life in the same accident. I’ve talked to Somalis who grew up in the most unthinkable violent situations; who have seen 50 people shot and stood among there dead bodies. Then there are those who have been physically and sexually abused by their own father or family members. Many people suffer from trauma and the psychological torture or memories and thoughts of the things that God allowed to happen in their lives; some of the things that happened to them I could never tell anyone.

Psalm 42:

My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
My soul is downcast within me;
….all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?

I don’t even care to read those sections of the Psalm 42 that talk about “I will put my hope in God; or my soul thirsts for thee.” I don’t care; I just don’t care. I have heard people tell me that they don’t care anymore; they have nothing left to hope for; they’re done. It’s over for them. They pass the point of no return.

This is what it says in Psalm 43:

Declare me innocent, O God!
Defend me against these ungodly people.
Rescue me from these unjust liars.
For you are God, my only safe haven.
Why have you tossed me aside?
Why must I wander around in grief,
oppressed by my enemies?
Send out your light and your truth;
let them guide me.
Let them lead me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you live.
There I will go to the altar of God,
to God—the source of all my joy.
I will praise you with my harp,
O God, my God!

Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!

You know the thing that gets me the most? I mean with the Somali ministry? I myself am not a Somali but God has burdened me to love, care for, pray for, spend my time and money on reaching Somalis for Christ. I’ve been doing it for 20 over years. Do you know how many of the thousands and thousands of Somalis I have spoken to over the years have invited me to their house for a meal? I mean take a guess. Of all the thousands, maybe tens of thousands of Somalis that I have met and spoken to, seen delivered from tormenting spirits, seen baptized, heard of get married, saved because they didn’t go to Mogadishu and get their brains blown out for some warlord – take a guess. The many drives I’ve done for them; money I lent them; time taken to talk on the phone or in other places. Not once my dear fellow human beings; not once have I been invited to their homes for a meal.

I’m like a leper; a gall; like a plague that no one wants near them. I understand though. If they do show some affection or love for me publicly then their cover is blown. I understand that, respect and honour that and would never compromise their need for secrecy – unless it is done unintentionally. No real names are used, no photos, no sharing of addresses or phone numbers ever happens.

You know what else gets me really down? Unanswered prayers. The Bible is full of promises that are meant to encourage us that God is great and will answer all our prayers. But what happens when He doesn’t? What happens when He allows the exact opposite to happen about what we were praying for? Decade after decade? What then?

We are all human. We all have that unseen black cloud that covers us from time to time; we feel tired, depressed and discouraged. I think we all have it. We pray for something and it doesn’t happen; then we read in the Bible “ask and you shall receive” and so we ask but we don’t receive. What do we do then?

There is nothing else I know to do than to take my misery and despair to the Lord. Does it help? Yes it does. Does it change the situation; yes it does. God somehow makes it right. He provides an answer to my problem but it’s not always what I wanted. I asked for my daughter to be healed; but she is getting worse. I asked for my son not to get worse and he has. So those prayers were not answered. And many have prayed for things, hoped for all things; but they didn’t happen. In fact what they didn’t want to happen is what happened.

The Bible says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” Many of us have sick hearts today because our hopes have been deferred for a long long time. Where is God? What hope can I give you? How can I encourage you when I am discouraged? How can I give you hope when I hardly have any left myself?

‘May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.’

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

So I will go back to the trenches or solo warfare against the enemy; I will go back and meet secretly with believers who honour their family and friends above me; who are not even willing to speak my name elsewhere; I will go back and serve my God and take them to church and pray for them and minister to them best I can. I will let Christ work through me to touch their lives.

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.