On the Far Side of the Sea

Topic: When feeling helpless, homesick, or defeated Jesus will intercede and sustain us.

“Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25).

This is God’s promise, and it is perhaps best demonstrated in the story of Peter, a confident man of God.

During the last supper, Maundy Thursday, a day before Jesus knew he would die, he said to his disciples in that upper room as they ate their final meal together, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:  ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

“Peter replied, ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will’…’Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the other disciples said the same.” (Matthew 26:33-35).

We know what happens: after Jesus is arrested, the disciples run and hide, except for Peter.

Have you ever been so certain of yourself, believed you were prepared for a situation only to find out that in the heat of the moment, your emotions betray you? You find yourself grappling for some control over feelings that you didn’t even know existed within

Peter had surely felt this when that rooster crowed and he retreated outside the courtyard of the high priest’s home to weep bitterly. He had known that his faith was going to be tested for Jesus warned him that Satan asked, “to sift him as wheat.” (Luke 22:31). Jesus told him that although his faith would falter, he would return to his faith stronger than ever—“But I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may not fail.” (Luke 22:32). That promise sustained Peter who went on to be “the rock on which the church was built.” (Matthew 16:18).

The moment we set foot on Shanghai soil, I felt it. That mixture of dread and surrealism that blended to create such a discomfort that I could barely think straight. Insecurity and fear nipped at my heels and I felt a constant gut-stirring sensation that life was never going to be the same.

Two days before, as I walked around our American home, memorizing the layout, the remodeling we had completed, the memories we had made, I told myself with positive anticipation, “Life is never going to be the same.” I welcomed change, the challenge of something new. Adventure waited. I had not anticipated nor prepared myself for feeling homesick, sad, and lonely.

A week after our arrival in China, I sat on our sofa with the sinking feeling that I had betrayed my former life. I struggled to be positive and embrace the adventure. What had we done? To ourselves, our children, and our dog—she’d been in quarantine for a week and was now stir-crazy with the changes in her life. I prayed non-stop, never wavering in the promise that God would see us through, but drowning in the reality that everything familiar was 7,000 miles away. I clung to the promise that God would be with us “on the far side of the sea.” (Psalm 139:9-10).

A knock sounded at the front door and I opened it to our housing compound’s ambassador, a beautiful Brazilian woman whose smile was a warm and inviting. I liked her immediately. While introducing me the Suzhou Expat Services, she asked if I was a believer. When I said yes, she stated she too was a Christian, and not only introduced us to the church services that were available, but offered to drive us to services that Sunday.

We attended church at Suzhou International Fellowship our second Sunday in China. My new friend also introduced me to the Women’s Bible Study sponsored by the church. My first two weeks in China and I had been connected with an entire network of Christian women from all over the world. Were there a balm for homesickness, it existed in the prayers, love, and support of so many women who had gone before me and understood that God would sustain our family.

Seven months later, at the time of this writing, our family has had many amazing adventures, our children have adapted, our dog settled in, and my faith increased. Although there are days of homesickness, I am prepared to bask in the comfort of God’s faithfulness and in the continued promise that with Christ’s resurrection, we continue to have the presence of His Holy Spirit.

Do you feel as if you are living on the “far side of the sea,” out of your comfort zone, away from all that has been familiar to you? Whether it is due to a broken relationship, a new job or supervisor, a loss, a move, etc., take comfort in knowing that when you seek God through Jesus, the Holy Spirit intercedes for you. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26).

Dear Lord, We praise you for your goodness and your unconditional love that keeps you in touch with our every need. Help to make it easy for us to cry out to you and then accept the comfort and peace you offer in Christ Jesus. Amen