Embrace Difficulties

In 2016, God told us to sell our home in Kansas and move to Chile. It is quite a story and we have learned many lessons along the way. However, lessons learned in God’s school of faith usually involve difficulties. This move has been no exception.

This is our second move to Chile. The first move was eleven years ago. After living in Chile 2 1/2 years, we moved back to the states.

The first move was difficult. But we thought this one would be easier because we knew what to expect and how to get things done.

We were wrong. Almost every step we have taken has been met with difficulties. Our Chilean friends were amazed at the problems. The problems have been so frequent that it became almost comical — almost.

  • It took us exactly three months to apply for a residence visa. And it hasn’t been due to our lack of effort. I went to the immigration office at least thirteen times and the International Police at least six times. Here is a sampling of the weird obstacles we’ve faced:
  • We lost our permanent residency because of being out of the country too long. So we had to get a certificate from the International Police stating that we lost it. But the International Police had no record of us leaving the country eight years ago. It took them ten days to sort that out.
  • With the certificate in hand, we went back to immigration only to be told that the paper tourist card we received when we entered the country was not good and we had to get a duplicate electronic tourist card. So we went back to the International Police.
  • But they didn’t have our entry into the country in their electronic system because we entered on a cruise ship. The station chief said our tourist visa was good for only two to seven days instead of the normal 90 days. We thought she was wrong, but what can you do… So she wrote us up for an infraction of the immigration laws and sent it to Santiago for determination. The next week we went back to talk to her only to find out she was on vacation for ten days and she was the only one we could talk to about the case.
  • The International Police finally called and said the issue has been resolved and we needed to go to immigration. So we went only to find out that the documents weren’t in yet and to come back in a week. I went in the next week to find that only my documents came, not my wife’s and daughter’s. So another week of delay.
  • Immigration finally said the papers were in. So we all went to the immigration office only to find a full waiting room. The one immigration officer did not make appointments and took people in first come first serve. After an hour, the officer said that she wouldn’t have time for any more cases that day and to come back later. She was going to be out of the office the rest of the week so the secretary suggested we be here at 8:30 Monday morning.
  • My wife dropped me off at 8:20 a.m. while she found a place to park. I was the first one there, but the immigration officer didn’t arrive until 8:30 and wasn’t going to see anyone until 9:00. At first, I was upset that the secretary told us the office opened at 8:30. But later, I realized she did us a favor. It took us three hours to make the applications for all five of us. The waiting room was full of people — waiting.

A simple process took us two months to complete. It took another two months to get a decision. Waiting is never fun. But one problem this wait created was we couldn’t ship our household goods yet. We couldn’t clear them through customs without a residence visa. So we sat in our rented house with six folding chairs, a folding table, a few dishes, the clothes we carried, and our sleeping bags and mats… waiting for our visa.

Are we supposed to be here?

This is so hard… Did we miss God? Should be go back to the States? It’s easy to answer yes… when we face unpleasant difficulties.

I read about Peter walking on the water in Matthew 14. Verse 30 caught my attention:

But when [Peter] saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

Matthew 14:30

When God tells you to do something, don’t look at the wind and the waves. Don’t look at the difficulties, roadblocks, and hard work. Look at Jesus. He will give you the strength, ability, and grace to complete the task He gave you to do.
After Jesus calmed the storm, He told his disciples that they had little faith. Jesus had told them to cross to the other side. No storm was going to thwart His purpose. But they still were afraid.

Jesus told Peter to walk on the water. And he did… until he began to look at the storm and the “impossibility” of what he was doing.

It is like the exodus from Egypt. God said He would take them to the promised land. But at every difficulty, the Israelites displayed their lack of faith — at the Red Sea, when they lacked water, when they lacked meat, etc. Their response was usually, “Let’s go back to Egypt!”

Our faith is only tested by facing difficulties in taking the path God has instructed us to take. The three Hebrew young men faced a fiery furnace in steadfastly following Yahweh’s command not to worship another god. The disciples faced a storm in obeying Christ’s command to go to the other side. We’ve been facing difficulties in coming to Chile.

Difficulties are not a sign that we are on the wrong path. They are not a sign that we are out of God’s will. The path to destruction is wide and easy. Many people take the path of least resistance. The path to life is difficult. Few travel to the end of this path.

Be thankful when God tells you to do something, and then tests your faith. You know you are walking on the path that leads to life.