The American Chicken In Chittagong

 

Neal Pollard

Almost five years ago, I was sitting in an unlocked car with Ralph Williams on the streets of Chittagong, Bangladesh.  Our driver and a native preacher had gone into an alley to find some breakfast for us.  It was about 7:00 AM, and all at once hundreds of men in full Muslim attire, white caps and white cloaks or brightly-colored hats and basic-colored cloaks, began streaming past us.  As I saw them, and among them undoubtedly some clerics and an imam or two, I confess to having had an elevated heart rate.  I felt vulnerable and a bit unsafe, knowing I stood out with my comparatively pale skin and American clothes.  My Bangladeshi vocabulary is very sketchy.  I kept thinking that I could not do much to protect myself or my more elderly companion.

Have you ever felt vulnerable, alone, helpless, and afraid?  Perhaps it takes more than a vivid imagination and a throng of Islamic pedestrian commuters to invoke such feelings from you, but most all of us experience feelings of being susceptible, anxious, and even alarm.  David certainly did!

He wrote, “Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow And my years with sighing; My strength has failed because of my iniquity, And my body has wasted away. Because of all my adversaries, I have become a reproach, Especially to my neighbors, And an object of dread to my acquaintances; Those who see me in the street flee from me. I am forgotten as a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel. For I have heard the slander of many, Terror is on every side; While they took counsel together against me, They schemed to take away my life ” (Psalm 31:9-13).  Distress. Grief. Sorrow. Sighing. Failing strength. Wasted body. Reproach. Dread. Forgotten. Broken. Terror.

Perhaps you relate to that. A job loss. A failed relationship. Financial stress.  A fearful diagnosis. An accident. What do you do in the face of threats, trouble, and trials?  The rest of Psalm 31 answers that.  Trust in God (14), put your “times” in His hand (15), call upon Him (17), trust His provision (19-22), love Him (23), be strong, take courage, and hope in Him (24).  In a word, “God” is the answer.  But we must reach out to Him for that help.  When we do, we see our concerns in the clearer light of His power!

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