Everyone Has a Story
The Empty Room
By Joelle Yamada
I was 19 years old and living smack dab in the middle of the People’s Republic of China. I was there for the year as a student missionary teaching English. It was not an easy country to live in during the early 1990’s and our spirits had been in need of refilling. Wonderfully, for Christmas and the New Year my fellow student missionaries and I were able to go to Hong Kong and eat at McDonald’s and feel as westernized as it was possible to feel in Asia at that time. My boyfriend and his sister had flown over to meet us and it was a most perfect Christmas celebration.
And then we had to go back into China.
Immediately, I came down with a terrible flu–fever, chills, cough, stuffy head… the works. I was stuck in bed feeling physically miserable and emotionally devastated knowing it would be six long months before we’d see our love ones (and McDonald’s) again. Of course, that was the perfect time for the evil one to attack me with feelings of self-pity and loneliness as I’d never felt before or felt since.
It was hardly a tragedy of any real magnitude—but in my young life, it was as close to the pit of despair as I had ever felt. Everything seemed dark and without hope.
It was then in that empty room that I felt the presence of God. I had experienced the feeling before, but it had always been in a more corporate situation, surrounded by other believers. I’d never realized that God would come just to be with me and comfort me. For the first time in my life, I understood that Jesus would have died just for me—that his love was more than enough to carry me through all of the difficult times in life.
Years have passed, but I still have moments when I am transported back to that cold afternoon in that empty… but not really empty room.
Joelle Yamada wrote this when she was living in Okinawa, Japan. All rights reserved © 2012 StoryHarvest.org. Click here for content usage information.