You’re going about your day, minding your own business, and then you get kidnapped. Drama in a relationship, unexpected loss of work, or some other catastrophe strikes your life, leaving you feeling paralyzed. Your life just got hijacked. What do you do to get out of it?
When I was 19, I was kidnapped while living in Northern China. The experience provided me seven strategies that still help me through any uncertain time.
I was living in a town named Dan Dong. Throughout my stay there, I would often notice an old Chinese tower on top of a nearby mountain. I made it my goal to climb the trail to the top.
1. Don’t Go for It Alone
I left my team early in the morning, thinking no one would want to go with me. This is similar to all of us when we go through a painful time — often our first instinct is to isolate ourselves.
It could be because of hurt or betrayal. It may be that we don’t want to be a burden. Regardless of the reason, God’s answer is the same:
“Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” Proverbs 18:1
God knows when we are alone, the devil will mess us up. It’s why He says DON’T ISOLATE YOURSELF! God made our minds to process difficult things with someone we trust.
We cannot do this life alone.
2. Don’t Get Married to the Lie
While walking up the trail, an elderly Chinese mom and daughter appeared beside me. The daughter began to talk to me in broken English and tried to translate for her mother.
After a bit, the mom would say something in Chinese, and the daughter would look embarrassed. The mom would push her until she translated.
“My mom says you are handsome. You have beautiful eyes.”
Then the compliments got weird.
“Mom says she always wanted an American son. Mom says she wants me to marry an American man.”
When an uncomfortable moment in life occurs, the devil will use it to slip in a lie. If we are not careful, we can marry this lie for the rest of our lives.
“Christians are all hypocrites. God doesn’t care. My life doesn’t have a purpose,” are just a few lies I have heard people say.
When they share why they believe it, they often refer to an event that happened 20 years ago!
The lie left them bitter, angry, and poisoned in their soul. We must learn to forgive!
When a lie emerges like, “My life doesn’t matter,” we must catch it and bring it to the light before it takes root in our hearts.
3. Don’t Drink the Unknown
After our awkward time at the tower, my Chinese mom invited me for dinner. I respectfully told her I could not, to which she demanded, “You will come now.”
She put her arm through mine and began walking with the strength of ten men. Unless I wanted to rip my arm out of her grip, I was going with her.
She led us to her nearby apartment and immediately started feeding me everything she could find.
Then, bringing out a dark red liquid in a bowl, she offered it to me while her daughter explained: “Best we have in all of the house.”
I took a sip and realized it was a taste I had never encountered before.
The mom smiled and pushed the bowl back up to my mouth, pleading, “Please drink, best wine we have.”
When in pain and tragedy, it is so easy to turn to other things in this world. It is easy to turn to what the world says is the best help for trouble, thinking it will numb the pain.
Some turn to alcohol, others turn to entertainment … these are all attempts to soothe ourselves. Each person has their own temptation in times of pain. We must learn to identify ours and see when we are running to it rather than running to Christ.
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4. Cry Out to God
I was stranded in an unknown part of China, now a little buzzed, and had no idea how to get home. What could I do?
I prayed. Out loud.
“Jesus, help. Show me You are here.”
Sometimes all we can do is pray those two simple words. “Jesus, help.”
Even though we’d prefer an urgent answer, we don’t always need a solution right away.
What our soul needs most is to see Jesus in our pain right along with us.
“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:17-18 ESV
5. Look for God in the Situation
Many assume God only shows up after the hardship ends. He does not. He shows up in the middle of hardship.
China-mom had a Chinese radio station playing. The moment I prayed, the radio cut and switched to another song. A peaceful, familiar melody filled the room, and the lyrics began:
“There can be miracles when you believe…”
It was a song I had grown up with from a movie called The Prince of Egypt. Listen to it here
The song is about God miraculously showing up when we believe.
Yes, on Communist China’s secular radio station, a song about the miraculous power and hope of God began to play.
That was the moment I knew God was with me.
What the devil intends for evil, the Lord turns for good. God is ready to break through miraculously into every situation, but do we invite Him into it?
At our worst times, we must choose to first cry out to God.
6. Stand Upon God’s Word
I stood up from the table and pulled out my Bible from my backpack.
“I have a blessing from God that I want to pray over your house and family,” I said.
I don’t know if they really understood, but the daughter spoke to her mom in Chinese, and they motioned for me to share.
I opened to Psalms 23 and read it out loud. Words can’t describe how the room felt next.
God’s presence tangibly filled this little Chinese apartment.
The mom began sobbing. The daughter said she could feel peace enter into her room like she had never felt before. I tried to explain to the daughter that it was Jesus.
He loved her and her mom and wanted a relationship with them.
We must turn to what God has spoken, especially when all other security is stripped away.
7. Trust God with the Outcome
With the language barrier, it was hard to know if they understood or not. I prayed with them and had to trust God with the result.
Sometimes we have to let go of our need to know the outcome. This can be one of the first steps toward healing.
Let go of the why, and choose to trust God with what happens.
When it was time to leave, the mom emptied their food closet into bags for me, just like a true mom. She then got in a cab with me and took me back to where I was staying with my team.
We pulled up, and I got out of the car with my bags of food. As the taxi pulled away, this Chinese woman cried at me through the window, “MY SON, MY SON!”
My team was frantic. “Where have you been?! You’re three hours late! What happened? Are you OK?”
“I don’t know. I think I got kidnapped. They made me drink wine. Then God showed up on the radio. Everyone started crying. I preached the gospel, and I think I got adopted.”