Holding Grief & Gratitude at the Same Time

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The Tates have served the Lord in Kitale, Kenya since January 2008. Their main ministry is church planting.

April 21, 2023

Greetings to all of you from beautiful Kijabe, Kenya.

It’s interesting writing these newsletters every year. One of the neat things about it is looking back over the letter from the year before and seeing all the answered prayers. Last year I listed 10 things for you to pray for.  Of those 10 things, only one has not changed in the least – adoption. All the others have been answered to one degree or another. That is so encouraging!

God has been good. Well, God is always good even when circumstances are difficult – which they still are. But God has shifted a lot of things for us. Many of them you already know about from Roger’s letters.

I will be honest with you. After going through several months where things were looking up with Chloe, this last month has been difficult and disheartening. I feel like we’ve taken several steps backwards, and that’s really discouraging. In the middle of that, it’s sometimes difficult to remember that things are still better than they were a year ago – on every level: Chloe; support from professionals; community; ministry; marriage; growing in patience, faith, strength, and perseverance…

One of the fundamental things God has been teaching me is that it’s okay to hold grief and gratitude in my hands at the same time: they are not mutually exclusive. I think this is difficult for a lot of people in Christian circles. Anytime someone expresses hard things our knee-jerk reaction is to remind them to be thankful or to minimize the pain they are trying to express. We want to fix things, correct things, and make people feel better about their situation and about God. We say things like, “But don’t forget,” or “At least it’s not as bad as…” or “But look at the important work God has called your parents/spouse/you to…” which communicates the message that the person talking to us isn’t allowed to express those difficult emotions. We shut them down and communicate to them that there is something wrong with them or that they are bad Christians…or even worse, that they are just collateral damage. We’re often not good at sitting with suffering and difficult emotions.

As a mom of three adult MKs now, I can look back and see how I did this to my own children way more than was healthy for them. It seems like experiencing trauma is considered a badge of honor for missionary families in many circles, and we lose sight of the fact that our missionaries and their wives and children need better support in processing those traumas without fear. This doesn’t negate the things we do well for our missionaries – not at all. So please, if a missionary says, “We need a little bit more emotional support right now,” don’t hear that as, “Y’all aren’t doing your job…” rather, just hear the humble admission that life is extra tough in this season and we need our far-away Christian community in extra-ordinary ways right now.

Well, this is where we are as a family: trying to remember that it’s okay to struggle, and it’s okay to ask God difficult things. It’s okay that we feel the “hard.” This “hard” isn’t unique to us. Of all the missionary families I know at RVA (and there are a LOT of them) there isn’t one that doesn’t have a LOT of trauma they are trying to process. And though there are very unique aspects of this for missionaries (especially and most devastatingly for their children), “hard” isn’t only part of missionary life – it’s just part of life, isn’t it? Only the details are different.

So, I want to encourage YOU. If you are going through a difficult period, it’s okay to process that grief. It’s okay to talk about it without feeling like you have to couch everything in “Christianese.” It’s okay to be real. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed today. It’s okay to stop, plop in a chair, look up to God (whether physically or in your spirit) and just say, “Lord, this feels too heavy for me today. I’m overwhelmed. This hurts. I don’t feel like I can keep going today. I need You.” It doesn’t make you a bad Christian or a weak Christian or an ungrateful Christian; it makes you a real, broken person in a real, broken world who is learning how to lean hard into grace.

Roger and I are still learning how to leaning hard into grace in this pro-longed season of our lives. In the middle of all the answered prayer, in the middle of all the continued struggle (because we haven’t yet entered fully into the “rest” promised us), leaning hard implies the idea that we can’t stand on our own…because we can’t. And that’s okay.

God has answered many prayers. God has given us incredible opportunities. God has done amazing things.  …AND…  We’re hurting. It’s hard. We need your prayers. We need your encouragement. We need to know that our peeps back home still have our backs in this difficult season.

So now, may the God of all comfort comfort us all in all our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort others with the comfort which we have received from Him.



Roger & Julie Tate
Moffat Bible College
P.O. Box 70
Kijabe, Kenya 00220

For ministry donations:
Pastor George Sledd, Treasurer of BFM
P.O. Box 471280 | Lake Monroe, FL 32747-1280
or click here to donate to BFM online.

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