…take some inspiration from James.
James knows that life is hard. He was born without arms to a poor house-painter and a seamstress in Bangalore, India. His parents tearfully dropped him off at an orphanage at the age of three months when they saw no way to raise him with their means in their culture.
He spent the first two years of his life fighting for his safety and his daily bread in an Indian orphanage. He was a survivor.
From the day he arrived at our Connecticut home in November 1997, he was a feisty one. James was a wide-eyed whirlwind in a 2-year-old body. As if to protest our changing his Indian name, Karthik, to James, he began pacing around the house shouting something that sounded like, “Go tee la. Go tee la.” (We later learned that this phrase in his native Tamil language means, “I don’t know. I don’t know.”)
There was his interaction with our yellow labrador. He would follow the dog around, kicking his side and yelling, “Shoo. Shoo.” (He was taught in India to keep away from the street dogs which carried diseases.)
And there was the time he got impatient with his new dad, Mike. He wanted Mike’s attention at the dinner table and apparently didn’t get it soon enough. Next thing we knew, James had picked up a forkful of noodles in his foot and flung it across the table at Mike.
But that’s what survivors do. They try to survive.
At that time, James was still fighting alone. It was our job, as his parents, to introduce him to the Advocate who would do the fighting for him.
What we knew and what James needed to know is that:
“My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip–He who watches over you will not slumber…
The LORD watches over you–the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm–He will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121)
As James began to rest in the shalom of God’s presence, his countenance began to change.
He wanted to be the first to feed the new foster baby.
And as he grew in knowledge of this gracious God, he was transformed from the survivor to the overcomer that he is today.
He still likes to care for babies.
And his cooking is to die for. Whether he’s crushing peanuts for Pad Thai…
…or baking biscuits…
…or frying up the bacon…
James’ spirit remains indomitable.
He doesn’t despair because he knows to whom he belongs. He doesn’t say to his God, as the Israelites did,
“My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God.” (Isaiah 40:27)
James would say with the Prophet,
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired and weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.” (Is. 40:28)
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (Is 40:29)
“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.” (Is. 40:20-21)
“They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Is. 40:31)
Yes, life is hard. But there is One who has gone before us to make our paths straight.
When you feel like a survivor instead of an overcomer, live these words.
“Trust in the LORD with all heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”