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Stranger in a Strange Land

“Then Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, 4 “I am a foreigner and a visitor among you. Give me property for a burial place among you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” Genesis 23:3-4

As an expat living in South Korea right now, it’s interesting to hear from different people how they happened to come and stay in this small but booming country. Some found the lifestyle to be addictively convenient, others met boyfriends and girlfriends that eventually turned into spouses, and still others found Korea to be a permanent escape from the responsibilities and stresses back at home. At first I was puzzled. Upon arriving to Korea I was terribly homesick, I felt awkward using my broken Korean, and I wished for a taste of something normal and familiar. But now I kind of understand how easy it must be to settle into a unfamiliar place. So easy that when something like the death of a loved one occurs, it feels like the cold slap of reality takes over our lives for the briefest second.

I can’t imagine the struggle that Abraham must have went through when he lost his wife. It’s completely beyond me. I have only experienced living away from home for 6 months, yet Abraham spent most of his life traveling, settling, and uprooting with faith that he was doing the will of God. The shock that must have overtaken him, realizing that she would be buried away from her family and home, and that he also would likewise do the same, is unfathomable. Although they weren’t written when Abraham was alive, Abraham probably clung to similar promises as the ones below:

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:3-6
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

And hey, Abraham had one of the biggest personal promises of being made into a great nation, one as numerous as the stars! Not many people can say God has promised them that.

Although God has called us to different works for his glory, the underlying mission to the world is something that we often forget. It’s something too big, so abstract, and it requires us to reach out to people bridging cultural and social gaps we can’t even imagine. However, God promises us that he will be with us to the end. He doesn’t promise an easy road or smooth travels, but he does promise us security and hope for the future.

Kara Kang is currently serving as a short term missionary at the SDA Language Institute in South Korea. She likes reading, cooking, and running on Sunday mornings. Back at home, she lives with her family in Berrien Springs, Michigan.

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