By Christina Roberts
Most days, a good chunk of my time is spent visiting with my South Sudanese friends.
This time consists of becoming aware of certain cultural practices, learning the language, and discussing daily life, all of which can cover a wide spectrum of topics. Usually, during our chat or language practice, a simple question is asked, such as what they are planning to do the following day, when I will see them again, or if they will go to the market later in the afternoon.
The answers may vary, but almost always the answer is coupled with “if God wills." This is something that has really stuck out to me, as this was not a common phrase used in my circle in the U.S.
Life in America is somewhat more predictable than life in Africa, or it at least appears that way. In the U.S., I can say with confidence I will go to the store tonight, will meet you for coffee on Saturday morning, or will go to visit my aunt in Dallas in two weeks. Yes, someone may have to cancel because they are sick or a car may break down, but for the most part these plans will come to pass.
As Americans, we thrive on knowing that we are able to control everything, or at least on the feeling that we can control everything. The more I speak with my African brothers and sisters, however, I realize that the sense of control we feel as Americans is really something false. With such a history of war and instability, the South Sudanese get the fact that they don’t have control. In all honesty, it is a much more biblical way of walking through life, whether the individual is actually aware of the biblical truth or not.
Through observing my South Sudanese friends, I have been convicted of my own pride and false sense of control.
This has challenged me to adopt their way of thinking. If I walk in the “if God wills” mindset, it may help me to see a clearer picture of God’s goodness on a daily basis. With this mind set, day after day, through even the smallest of circumstances, I will see even more how He cares for me. And maybe, just maybe, I might be slower to doubt His goodness when He does allow something that I deem “bad” to happen.
“Come now you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go in to such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is , you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” James 4:13-15