For many years now, I’ve kept some form of an online blog as a place to let my journals overflow into the hands of my friends and family (and the occasional stranger). It’s been a strange experience to see the places those once-private thoughts have landed, but I believe that the Lord gives each of us stories of grace, redemption, hope, and imperfection that are longing to be told to display His glory. Since being back in Thailand over the past few months, I’ve found that my blog has stayed silent while I’ve hashed out my thoughts through my social media accounts. Despite many of my posts turning into mini-blogs, I’ve felt the stories crying out to be told fully, and so this week I’d like to invite you into the uncut versions of my social media feed, in hopes that the words of the Lord find you and lift up your weary or discouraged hearts.
A God Who Listens
I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he bends his ear to listen, I will call on Him as long as I live.
Psalm 116:1-2 (ESV)
In my journeys over the past couple of years, I spent a month in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It’s a city where you can’t stick your arm out without hitting one of three things: a backpacker, a motorbike, or a Buddhist.
I remember sitting in a coffee shop with a sweet new Buddhist friend learning about her life and about her current curiosity about Christianity. One of her Christian friends had begun praying over some personal problems she was having, and my new friend was seeing things change for the better. She was so confused how her Christian friend’s prayers were being answered while her prayers and offerings to Buddha were being ignored, and the words she said next rattled me to my core and rooted themselves in my heart forever. “Your God listens.” I still get goosebumps when I think back to that conversation in that coffee shop in that Communist country.
In Thailand, where I’m currently living, there is a saying: “To be Thai is to be Buddhist.” Despite being a country that speaks of religious freedom, the Thai identity is tightly secured to Buddhism. From the moment you are born, you are legally marked as a Buddhist. To convert is almost to betray your country and disrespect the king. All schools, even the Catholic schools, are required to teach Buddhism rather extensively.
Learning all of this has made me more and more curious about the testimonies of the people I work with, who are all Thai Christians. One day, I asked one of our teachers how she became a Christian and what it was that made her see Jesus as Truth over Buddha. She launched into her story of the way her sister’s conversion helped to peak her interest, and what she said next sent me back to that Communist coffee shop. “I realized that for all the offerings I gave to my idols, nothing happened. My sister told me that the God she believed in listened to His people and He even spoke to her. And I knew that a God who listens is what I wanted.”
Our God listens. It seems like such a simple truth, but it is one that I’m learning the true weight and beauty of more and more. Those three words hold such power: Our God listens. He hears your prayers, He hears your joys and your sorrows, and He’s listening.