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My Hong Kong Detour

by SARAH DEAL EXPECTATION Health issues on the field
My Hong Kong Detour
“The LORD is with me; he is my helper…”
Psalms 118:7a

Flying back to begin our second term as cross-cultural workers in Asia Pacific, our two-year-old son, Brice, began to cough. We were on an International Flight from LAX to Hong Kong, mere hours into our fourteen-hour haul. More symptoms followed–wheezing, high fever, trouble breathing, sleeplessness. My heart ached for my sweet, blonde boy, and a sickening, helpless dread threatened to consume me.

Long story short, our scheduled ten-hour layover in Hong Kong turned into a nearly three-day ordeal spent in an Infectious Disease ward, where our family was quickly separated. We took turns sleeping in the small lobby, entertaining our oldest son, while the other waited next to Brice’s bedside. Three days cut off from the outside world, stuck in a country where we couldn’t communicate, in a room full of other sick children and moms we couldn’t understand. I’d never felt so alone. Abandoned. The doctor finally (reluctantly) approved a release and flight to Jakarta, and we were on our way. 

But the experience left me with a crack in my soul. Praying was a struggle. It was over, right? Then why did it still hurt? I felt God had let me down. He hadn’t come through the way I had expected. I felt as if it was God who had abandoned us in Hong Kong, leaving us to fend for ourselves. 

Looking back now, I know that God was preparing me for a season of increasing stress on the field–for changes in life in ministry that were beyond my control. I needed to wrestle with the hard questions of what I was expecting of God. Did he owe me a life of ease, a life free of conflict or sickness or detours? 

It was good for me to ask, to cry out to God and admit He had let me down. Only then could He begin to help me unpack the unrealistic expectations I had on Him. You see, He is far more than I expected. He is for me. He always fights for me. In all He brings, He is good.

Closing Prayer
Oh Father, thank you for hearing our honest cries to You! I praise you that you are not intimidated by my questioning or my doubts, but instead you meet me where I am and gently guide me into truth! I praise You that you are WITH me in each situation I face, and that You never abandon or forsake me! Help me to recognize the times when I have expectations of You that don’t line up with the Truth found in Your Word. You truly are a good, good Father, and I trust You to be good in each situation You bring my way. Amen.
Book: Expectations and Burnout: Women Surviving the Great Commission by Robynn Bliss and Sue Eenigenburg I cannot say enough good things about this book! Loved it from cover to cover. There are so many good insights about having realistic expectations regarding all aspects of life as a cross cultural worker. Robynn and Sue are refreshingly honest and open as they share from their experiences as well as the perspectives of many other women from around the world about the connection between our expectations and thriving (or burning out!) in ministry.
Question for Reflection

What sort of Hong Kong Detour has God led you through recently? When was the last time you felt that God let you down? How might God be challenging you to realign your expectations of Him and His character?

Sarah Deal
June 21, 2021

Recently, God has allowed me to walk through a time of chronic migraines, which have really interrupted my quality of life and changed the way I’ve done life for so many years. I’ve always been the kind of person that can get a lot done, who’s prided myself in efficiency and being involved in multiple ministries at once. But God has changed all that and it has been very clear that I DO have limits. I’ve been frustrated that I can’t “do” as much for God as I wish I could! I wish (and expect) he would just sweep in and bring healing so I could get on with serving Him, you know?! My expectation has been that He would certainly care about getting HIS work done. But through this, I have seen God begin to shift my understanding of who He is and how He is so much more concerned about my relationship with Him, my ability to be still before Him, and my willingness to sit at His feet and to rest in Him than He ever was with my service! How refreshing!!

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