We have tried to be diligent with writing a blog post every month, and although this post is now a month late, it is also right on time.
The ancients Greeks understood that time was complex and so they had two words for it. The first was chronos, which referred to the quantitative dimension of time, like the days and hours. The second was kairos, which referred to the qualitative dimension of time, like an opportune moment or anointed time.
Over a month ago when I began to write, I was half way through when our priorities got turned upside down. In the middle of March we had travelled to India to research how different NGOs integrate various health and HIV/AIDs components in their projects. This required us to travel around Kolkata. After, we then went to Jaipur for an MCC regional retreat for Service Workers in Asia. It was here that Erin began to feel sick, and this quickly escalated and she had to be hospitalized for two days. At this time, my only priority was the health of my wife and unborn child.
Erin has now made a full recovery, and we want to sincerely thank all of you that supported and prayed for us through this. As Erin was in the third trimester of a high-risk pregnancy, we were quite worried about her health and that of the baby. Although we now know that she had a very severe (but treatable) bacterial infection, as these events were playing out there were many uncertainties and much that was beyond our sphere of control. Yet God provided for us with great medical care, people that sacrificed their time to manage all the logistics, medical professionals that answered calls at odd hours around the world, and countless people that prayed.
The night that Erin was admitted to the hospital, after she fell asleep it started to rain. I briefly stepped out on the balcony of the hospital and slowly breathed in the cool air. At that moment I was reminded that the same God that waters the earth was sovereign in this situation.
Before coming to Bangladesh, I was quite indifferent to the rain. In fact, the rain was often a nuisance. Yet after having experiencing heat so oppressive that at times you seriously consider turning off the fan as it simply blows hot (sometimes 48⁰C / 118⁰F) air on you, you deeply appreciate the refreshing coolness of the rains.
Although the rains periodically occur throughout the year, there is an annual season for the rains. In fact, there are six seasons in this part of the world: (1) Boshonto (spring), (2) Grissho (summer), (3) Borsha (rainy), (4) Shorot (autumn), (5) Hemonto (late autumn), and (6) Sheet (winter). Although they are short, each season has distinct characteristics that contribute to the lush vegetation. Yet despite the fact that the majority of the rain falls during Borsha, there are the welcome kairos moments when the rains come unexpectedly.
Erin and I have now been in Bangladesh for over a year, and looking back we have experienced a lot of change both personally and professionally. To be completely honest, it has been a hard year, but we don’t regret any of it and we still feel privileged to be a part of what is happening here. Yet there are those moments when one reexamines their priorities.
When I was younger, I naively thought that in time life would be simpler; but as I grew up I quickly realized the opposite was true. One of my favourite bands, Vampire Weekend, has a song called Run which fanaticizes about running away from the responsibilities of life.
Every dollar counts
And every morning hurts
We mostly work to live
Until we live to work
There’s nowhere else to go”
But changing roles
It struck me that the two of us could run
Worlds away from cars
And all the stars and bars
Where a little bit of condensation means so much
And a little bit of change is all your little fingers touch
(Vampire Weekend, Run).
But running away doesn’t accomplish anything, and over the years I have learned to face the challenges, and to face them joyfully. This lesson was echoed while in India, and I was reminded that Jesus calls us to an abundant life, which isn’t one free of struggles, but one through which the suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope; and this hope is in the Holy Spirit that God has given to us (Romans 5:3-5).
When we returned to Dhaka from India, we had to rush back to Mymensingh late that night because the following day there was yet another hartel (general strike). Despite it being physically taxing, I enjoy traveling throughout Bangladesh as it provides me an opportunity to reflect. However, this trip was going to be especially tiring as we had barely slept the night before, I had meetings in Dhaka as soon as we returned, and I was feeling sick from what I suspected was eating something cross-contaminated with gluten.
Nevertheless, as we drove back I stayed awake and looked back on our year in Bangladesh and the year to come. One thing that I have been wrestling with is how easy it can be to become pessimistic; this is a struggle that many people in our line of work are susceptible to. As the night wore on, the roads became busier as many people were trying to travel before the hartel. In a country where traffic laws are merely suggestions, this meant that the roads got a bit more chaotic than usual.
And then it began to rain.
Although this isn’t the season for rain, the downpour was strong and it caused the traffic to briefly come to a stop. We were now stuck on the wrong side of the road as a tuck with a shattered windshield headed for us. My stomach was still aching, I was really tired, and the road was a mess, but in this moment the rains reminded me that God reigns in all aspects of our life and we were exactly where He wanted us to be.
In the bible there is a story of a man named Job who went through unimaginable suffering, and as a result his perspective of the world was challenged. Although I haven’t experienced anything close to this magnitude, Job’s experience is illuminating. In his dialogue with God, Job is reminded that although there is much in this world we do not understand, God is still sovereign. God even rhetorically asks Job, “Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the dew drops?” (Job 38:28). After Job listens to God, Job’s understanding of God is magnified and he concludes by saying “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5).
As the traffic began to move again, a song I hadn’t heard in a while began to play on my iPod, Trading My Sorrows, and the timing couldn’t have been better.
I’m trading my sorrows
I’m trading my shame
I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord
I’m trading my sickness
I’m trading my pain
I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord
I am pressed but not crushed
persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed
I am blessed beyond the curse for
his promise will endure
And his joy’s gonna be my strength
Though the sorrow may last for the night
His joy comes with the morning.
(Darrell Evans, Trading My Sorrows).
Erin and I are in a new season of life. We entered a new season by coming to Bangladesh, but now this too is changing as we prepare to become parents. With this comes new challenges, but we don’t have to shoulder these alone.
Through the passage of time, we see God reveal Himself at the right time. This doesn’t mean He is distant at different seasons, but rather we see that which is unseen.
So, although this blog post was late in the chronos perspective, from a kairos perspective we had to wait until we could experience and recognize God’s hand at work.
PLEASE BE PRAYING THAT:
1. Bangladesh could experience a season of peace. The hartels (general strikes) are now over, but the underlying issues still remain.
2. Erin stays healthy and Baby Das continues to develop healthily. Erin is now in Canada, and I will return in June, just in time for the birth.
3. I will be able to get all the logistics organized for getting our apartment ready for the baby, and for ensuring the projects I am working on have all that is necessary to progress in my absence from June to August.
Nishant (and Erin)
Check out the full album at: March 2015
Check out the full album at: April 2015
Vampire Weekend, Run:
Darrell Evans, Trading My Sorrows: