When I was 5 years old, I promised myself that when I finally became an adult, I would spend all my money on candy. I could not understand why my parents would limit the pleasure of eating sweets. I know now it was silly to think that way, even though I believed then I knew what was best for me.
Now, as an adult who understands the nature of sugar and how dangerous it can be to your health if not controlled, I am far from realizing my childhood dream. And this is just one example of how our perspectives can change as we mature. Parents must protect their children, even when it causes the children disappointment or discomfort. Children typically do not choose to take bitter medicine, go to bed early, or finish homework on their own.
We don’t like to do difficult or painful things; instead, we focus on instant gratification. It takes maturity to make the right decisions and withstand pain, leading to a positive result. It may be painful to get up early to run for an hour, but if we endure this process faithfully, we will see positive results and improved health.
It takes genuine faith to accept the hardships that come and trust God.
Consider that God’s understanding is far greater than any adult’s. In God’s eyes, even the wisest men are like infants who can’t comprehend reality’s true complexity. And even believers who have entrusted their lives to the Lord complain when trials arrive. It is in our nature; nobody likes to suffer. It takes genuine faith to accept the hardships that come and trust God.
In 1999, my father became a representative with The Friends of Israel to minister to the Jewish people in St. Petersburg, Russia. Living in this new environment was a big adjustment for me as a young teenager. I had to learn to adapt to my new surroundings that were so much different from what I was accustomed to in Poland. There was great excitement in moving to a new country and ministering to Russian Jewish people, but I soon felt pretty lonely and unhappy and missed the life I had known in Poland. There was no way that I could return home to Poland, even for a visit.
God was gracious to our family, and soon I started to adjust to my new life and surroundings in St. Petersburg, realizing how greatly God had blessed me. I had believing parents who loved me and provided for my needs, while those living around us were unsaved, lonely, and destitute, with no hope in a depressed country.
But then, one of the most painful trials of my life came: the death of my father in the prime of His life and ministry. I suddenly became the head of the family with much responsibility. At the time, I was just 18 and had the monumental task of caring for my mother and three younger brothers. Of course, I could not imagine any good coming out of this situation, but as time passed, I began to understand the impact of this experience on my life.
God took care of my family; and today, I am continuing in my father’s footsteps, ministering to the Jewish people in Eastern Europe. I am incredibly thankful for God’s provision through The Friends of Israel, which has allowed me to attend a Christian university, study His Word faithfully, grow spiritually, and be immersed in a Christian environment.
Finding Purpose in Suffering
Now I see that my life’s suffering helped me better understand people in distress. I feel called to continue the work started by my father, serving with The Friends of Israel. I desire to reach Jewish people in Poland and other areas of Eastern Europe for God’s glory.
Now I see that my life’s suffering helped me better understand people in distress.
It has been especially helpful currently when I minister in Poland to many Jewish people suffering from the war in Ukraine. Some families also lost their fathers in combat. My story helps bring them comfort in this challenging situation. I could never relate to their suffering if I did not experience it in my life. Now I fully appreciate the words of Paul when he wrote: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
The complicated and confusing teenage years of my life now provide me with a background I can use for God’s glory. Initially, I did not enjoy my life in Russia. I was unhappy. But today I see God was using this time to prepare me for the mission to which I am called today. My wife is a Jewish girl from Doneck, the epicenter of the conflict in Ukraine; and I speak the Russian and Ukrainian languages at our home in Warsaw—something I would never be able to achieve if God did not plan my life as He did by leading me through challenging moments. The language and culture I was once afraid of became close to me and very useful. He used my trials for my good and His glory. What a wise God we serve!