- Tabitha Caplinger
The Reason For Hope
As many of you may know I recently spent nine days in Delhi. I went in with a lot of anxiety. I was worried about being so far away from my family, I was worried about the dangers that might be awaiting me in this new place. I spent the two weeks prior to the trip fervently praying about whether or not I should even embark on this little adventure (and kind of asking God to let me off the hook). Obedience doesn't always feel good after all. But even when it is difficult it is always worth it. After nine days in India and 21 hours traveling back to the US, I came home with a full heart. Full of God's love for me and full of love for the people of this country.
I can't even begin to explain to you all of this experience. I think India is one of those places you need to see for yourself to truly understand. I could try to describe the sights and smells. I could put my best effort into words that might give you a partial picture of wealth and poverty constantly clashing against one another on every street. I could give you a sense of the beautiful colors that played against the pain in people's eyes. But it wouldn't come close to the reality.
The reality was kind of heartbreaking most of the time. Even with the sun shining bright and a rainbow of colors everywhere you looked there was a darkness that you could feel deep under your skin, a sadness that pushed against your heart. It pushed when you saw those crippled men sitting on sidewalks. It pushed when a woman asked you to help her and her tiny baby. It pushed when little children tapped on your hand asking for money and you knew you couldn't help them. (Begging is part of human trafficking and rarely do these men, women, or children get to keep what you might give them, so to give in is not to help them but to feed a system of slavery.)
Yes, my heart broke and broke again. But in the middle of the pushing sadness we witnessed the power that is the hope of Jesus.
As part of our trip we got to visit rescued children in a Christian home. We walked along streets where we only saw pain and despair in people's eyes. Then we walked into that home and saw nothing but joy and peace in the eyes of those little ones. I wish you could have seen their smiles. I wish you could have felt their joy. I know that images of them will be forever burned into my mind and heart. But beyond the love I feel for them is the renewed awe I have in the gospel of Jesus.
I don't know what you believe. But I know what I saw. Both in that home and in the church services we were blessed to get to attend, the only real joy I witnessed in the whole of my short time in India was because of Jesus. The only smiles that reached dark eyes were from those who knew Him.
Billy Graham once said that we all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts. It can only be filled with Jesus and when we try to fill it ourselves, by our own means, we will fail. This truth was never clearer to me than in India. But it is not just truth in India. It is truth wherever we are. We all know people that are trying to fill the void with a million different things but what they really need is Jesus. And it is our job to introduce Him.
"If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God." 1 Peter 3:14-16 MSG
"But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:14-15 ESV