By Joe DiCarlo September 18, 2020 I’ve always considered myself a positive person. I tend to see the glass half full—sometimes even to a fault. With Jesus in my heart, I’ve often felt there would be no setback too insurmountable. After all, God is with me. And then came 2020, when the testing of my faith became real… and it hurt. The year started off normal enough. My glass-half-full approach to life was in full swing; I was anticipating a year full of promise and possibilities. Early on in the year, I scored some good successes at work and felt I was off to a good start. But things began to change in March when COVID-19 hit the entire country and we were suddenly forced to work remotely. I was thankful I could continue to work from home; I was even beginning to like it. But for someone whose personality profile is highly relational, going from high people contact to very low or no people contact began to take a toll. I could feel the effects of social isolation building in me like a tsunami. But I pressed on. Then on May 25th when George Floyd was murdered while in police custody, huge protests against racial injustice erupted everywhere. As terrible as racial injustice is, what I found most disheartening was how the topic of racial injustice became politicized and caused a greater division in our country. Even in our churches, there were debates and arguments about whether Christians should even be speaking up about social justice. And the debates continue today… The tsunami wave grew bigger and stronger. But I pressed on. Then in the middle of June, I got a call from my sister that the scans my brother had to see if his cancer treatments were effective showed it had spread. A week later he was in hospice care, then he passed away on August 18th. Grief, anger at God, and a heavy heart imprisoned me. But I pressed on. And now the forest fires and smoke choking Portland is causing the worst air quality of any city in the world. I have to admit, the smoke is not only in the air and in my lungs; it has also permeated my heart and soul, clouding my view of God’s power, grace, and mercy. The building tsunami wave has just crashed on top of me and I feel as if I am drowning. I knew I needed to hold on tight to my faith. I cried out to God in desperation because there was nothing else I could do. And in His grace, God used two work colleagues to minister to me in ways they will never know until now. One reminded me that when Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego were thrown into the fire for refusing to bow down to a false god (Daniel 3:16-28), God did not deliver them from the fire. He delivered them in the fire. The other colleague shared how we often hear, “I just want to go back to normal.” I’ve probably even thought that myself. But the truth is, normal is now. Normal is living in the midst of the fire, and God is in it with us, at work in our lives for His great purposes. He is not delivering us from the fire, He is delivering us in the fire. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” In reading God’s word and listening to the counsel of others, the cloudiness in my heart and soul is beginning to clear. I have a different perspective that allows me to see God at work. We are still fighting COVID, racial injustice continues, and the forest fires still rage. The people we serve around the world are facing a global pandemic on top of health issues, poverty, post traumatic stress disorder from witnessing horrible acts of war, and more. Trying to take in all of the pain and suffering in the world can feel bleak and heavy. But I can hold onto Hope in our faith in a loving God who is active in our lives and world. So if you are drowning in the circumstances surrounding your life, listen to the people around you. God may be using them to minister to you. And hold on to the hope described in 1 Peter 1:3-6, “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade… In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” Peace,Joe Joe DiCarlo, Medical Teams Global Ambassador Join with us as we pray for people in crisis.