Today, the unexpected happened.
I was robbed.
I never thought it could happen to me, as I am always so careful and conscious of my surroundings, but I guess today was different. I had just come out of Wal-Mart with 2 very heavy bags, contemplating whether or not to take a taxi home or the bus. I decided to take the bus, so as to save money. The bus was crowded, but that's nothing new. I stood in front of 2 people by the door, with my purse on my shoulder and the 2 heavy bags in hand. I noticed the 2 boys standing next to me and I even thought to myself "These boys are acting weird," but still the thought never crossed my mind that they could be targeting me. I was too smart to be robbed. Too careful. If they tried anything, I would definitely notice. Wrong. It took them all of 10 minutes to steal my wallet (as I was able to later see on the video from the bus). I got off the bus to switch lines and that's when I realized what had happened.
I knew immediately who did it and I burst into tears. My first reactions were not Godly, but raw emotion. I was angry... VERY angry...mostly with myself but I wanted to find those boys and I wanted to punch them in the face. I sat on the curb, cried, and called my friend for help. She immediately dropped what she was doing to come to me. I didn't have any money to take the bus home, so I decided to take a taxi and have my friend meet me at my apartment complex to pay the driver. She called to tell me she was stuck in traffic, so I asked the fruit seller to pay the taxi until my friend could arrive to pay her back. I sat on the curb of my apartment complex, cried some more, and waited for my friend to arrive. I was so angry with myself- how could I have been so stupid? How could I have not noticed them stealing my wallet out of my bag?! Why me, God?! Why would you let something like this happen to me?! Here I am living in a foreign country, where everyday is a struggle...and you let this happen to me! Why, God, why?!
I returned to my apartment with two of my friends and they called the police to report the theft. If they hadn't been in my apartment with me, I am fairly sure I would've punch a whole through the wall. The police arrived at my apartment 10 minutes later and escorted us to the police station to take down my statement about the incident. 3 hours later and I returned home. I called and cancelled 3 debit cards and 1 credit card. I had lost everything- my passport being the most valuable. All the stamps in my passport from all the places I've traveled... now there was no physical reminder of them. I had also just been paid 2000元 ($330) for teaching 20 classes over the summer at the university. That was gone, too. Not to mention all the other little reminders and cards I kept in my wallet. Gone. I was angry with myself and I wanted justice...and I wanted it now! I wanted this wrong to be righted and I wanted my stuff back!! And yet, God was so patient with me, hearing my plea for justice and my anger boil over into tears. That's when He reminded me of a verse that I will never forget again:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy,and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
As I calmed down, I began to think about the situation. These boys had taken something from me that was important, but they could never take from me what God has given. I began to count my blessings... I was safe. I wasn't hurt by them. I still had the keys to my apartment. At least my phone wasn't stolen. I had a warm bed and food in my fridge. My treasures aren't on this earth- they are guarded by the One who gave me my life and the One who sustains me day to day.
I began to feel an overwhelming presence of peace and forgiveness towards my thieves...and I can tell you that this feeling was not generated by me. I am incapable of harnessing such peace and forgiveness on my own...just look at my first reactions to this ordeal! No peace! No forgiveness! And yet God is so good- He grants us peace in the midst of chaotic situations and gives us the ability to forgive others, only because we can see what our own sin did to Him and He first forgave us!
I fell asleep that night and dreamed that my wallet was found and the boy who has stolen it came to know the Way, the Truth, and the Life, only found through Jesus Christ. I woke up and tried to make sense of this dream, only to realize that the Father was showing me that things don't matter, people do. He would restore everything to me in due time, but even if He didn't, this boy's salvation was far more important than me receiving my wallet back. Since that day, I have prayed that these boys would be caught- not for justice to be granted to me, but for salvation to be granted to them.
It's been almost a week since it happened, and I am able to see that God can use even the most unexpected of situations to draw us closer to Him and teach us what this life is all about.