About two and half months ago after church, I (Amanda) was standing around talking with some friends and saw something out of the corner of my eye. One of the many cats that have made themselves part of Wilton and Monica’s family at the church, (you know she’s a good cook when even the animals congregate after meals :)) was chasing something along the wall. I had to step a little closer but I realized it was a small mouse. I preceded to watch as the mouse took off running in one direction only to have the cat Pepinito (little cucumber), pounce on him and paw him for a few seconds. Then Pepinito would step back and allow the mouse to take off the other way. I watched this take place repeatedly over the course of 10 minutes, thinking about how cruel it was. About that time, it was time to go and I completely forgot about the showdown that was going on.

It was about two weeks later that we got news that we had a major problem with our new (to us) truck. The guy who looked at it first said he couldn’t know for sure until the engine was taken apart but that it could cost up to $5,000 to repair. It was in that moment that I remembered Pepinito and his mouse. It was in that moment that I felt like this mouse that is constantly being chased down, pawed at, only to be given a small glimpse of hope of survival, and then be attacked yet again. The past year and a half has had its share of trials: finding out two months after arriving to Ecuador that the government wanted to shut down the children’s home where we worked, my three year old being bitten in the face by a dog, then falling head-first off a second story balcony nine days later, trying to help an 18 year old girl with schizophrenia in a country where almost no mental health assistance exists, having to shut down the children’s home into which we had invested so much work and so many tears, and ultimately losing our sweet baby at 13 weeks. It was in that moment of uncertainty about our vehicle that the stress of all the “running” I had been doing from trial to trial last year came back to me in full force. I felt that the past couple months of freedom from major trials were simply a lull in the never-ending attacks. If I am honest, in that moment I became angry at God again. Why would he bully and badger me over and over like Pepinito did to that mouse? If He truly was a God of love, why would He do that to me? Can’t He see that I’ve already had enough?

Almost as immediately as those thoughts came to my mind, God comforted me in a way I can’t explain. God showed me that He is not the evil cat that is constantly beating me and tearing me down. That is the job of Satan. Unfortunately, Satan has been given power on this earth due to the sin that has so entangled our world. It is he that enjoys seeing me fall down. It is he that gets pleasure in seeing me cry. It is he that loves when I blame the God of love for the evil that he (Satan) is causing in my life. And in that moment, God showed me that in the scenario with the cat and mouse, He wasn’t the cat. God is the one that is looking on and hurting to see what Satan is doing to me. God is the one that hurts as He sees me cry. However (unlike me in the story of Pepinito and the mouse) God is not so busy or so above me as to not step in to care for me. According to Deuteronomy 20:3b-4

“Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.”

When we belong to Him, God wants to fight our enemies and ultimately save us. The part of this verse that I like best is that it says that God goes with us. He is not a God who is surprised by the havoc that Satan is causing in our lives. He knows that Satan wants to steal, kill, and destroy not only our lives but the joy and peace that comes through Christ. God is with us through each and every battle that we face. God is teaching me how great His love for me is and how He will not only see but walk with me through each and every trial I face. The life that God promised us as Christians is not painless or easy, but it is full of joy and peace when we choose to trust Jesus through our circumstances. We can place our hope in that, one day, Satan will be defeated. Revelation 20:1-3,10 says:

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Unfortunately, we are not yet living in the times of Revelation 20. I know that Satan is still working to deceive and destroy. I leave you with the bridge and chorus of Christ Tomlin’s song “Jesus Loves Me” that has become a source of encouragement to me as the attacks of Satan come. I know that I will have more trials to come but I will continue serving a God who loves me and is with me and is for me.

I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence
I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His arms
Jesus, He loves me, He loves me, He is for me
Jesus, how can it be, He loves me, He is for me