Awesomely uncomfortable
May 2016

By Josh Evans in Ukraine — My phone glared at me. I glanced at it out of the corner of my eye.

I looked at the clock. I looked at my phone.

I looked back at the clock.

I should have been perfectly comfortable, having just stepped off the blustering downtown Kyiv street into a warm café. But I wasn’t. I was positively uncomfortable.

“I have the time,” I thought to myself. “There really is no excuse then is there?” I conceded rather resignedly. “Alrighty, God. Here’s me jumping out.”

I dialed the number.

Someone picked up on the other end.


• • •

Max and I met my second time at English club, only three weeks after I arrived in Kyiv for six months of ministry. After club, we chatted briefly and he offered to show me around sometime. A few weeks later, I took him up on his offer, and we’d had a great time together. At the end of that time, he invited me to call in the future when I had a free evening and we could hang out again. So there I was. With a free evening.

It was perfect. I was already downtown. We’d had a good connection before. For a while now, I’d been praying for this opportunity to meet again. But when I’d begun entertaining the idea that tonight might work, a gang of worries popped up and started tailing me.

“What if he didn’t mean it? What if you just mistook a cultural practice for an actual invitation? Was he just humouring you as the foreigner? You’ve only been here two months — what do you know? You might know just enough to put him in a really awkward spot by calling him now and wreck any chance of the relationship continuing.

“What if you hit your mutual language barrier? You guys talked a ton last time. How much more can you discuss before his vocabulary or patience runs out? Then what? Or what if wants to go somewhere or do something you can’t understand?

“Is this really the right time for you even? You already did a fair amount today. Perhaps you should just go home and rest?”

• • •

I hung up. We were set to meet in an hour. That meant I needed to hop on the metro in half an hour. I breathed out heavily. I was still feeling definitively uncomfortable. I sat back in my chair. “Well, I have half an hour …” I thought to myself. I started praying.

What happened next was incredible. This half hour was precisely the gracious gift I needed. I talked to God about the situation, let out what I was feeling, asked where he was leading, and after a while, I began to feel peace. I worshiped through some music. Read a psalm or two. New thoughts filled my mind.

“God, you are my everything. If anything good is going to come of tonight, it’ll be because of you, and I can trust you to work that out. I don’t have to worry about it. I just have to jump out. And I sense you inviting me to do that tonight. Thank you. You didn’t even have to give me this half-hour window. You could have provided and ministered to my heart on the metro ride over. Yet you still gave me this time to calm my heart and commune with you. Because you care about me. And you care about Max. You want to show him that. And you can do that regardless of how ‘I’ do tonight.”

• • •

The night turned out to be a totally awesome one. No, we didn’t run out of things to talk about. And it was just one of several other meetings that have followed by now. We’ve had chances to talk about all manner of things and build the foundations of a good friendship. All glory to God. I’m excited to see what he does with the friendship in the time I have left in Ukraine. And who knows? Maybe something will continue after that!

In recent months, I have been discomforted far more often than I would have liked. My initial coming to Ukraine was due in part to a very dramatic and unasked for (from my perspective) change of life plans. Not being able to understand what’s going on around me has been a major inconvenience. Studying a culture and language has come with its share of embarrassments and awkwardness. Some of the things I’m involved in are actually remarkably challenging, time-consuming and tiring. Not comfortable.


I never knew how uncomfortable you could be … and still be OK! In fact, you can come out a lot better for it.



As I look back on all these discomforts, do you know what I see?

The most powerful and all-knowing magnificent holy king of the universe walking alongside me and sustaining me.

My time in Ukraine has been awesomely uncomfortable. That certainly isn’t to say I was always outside my sphere of comfort. I witnessed many of God’s blessings in the forms of people and traditions here. I delighted in discovering that there’s more to the world than I ever thought. It’s one thing to know the world’s a diverse place and it’s something else entirely to experience that diversity. I was able to praise God for what he’s doing here. It was such a joy to join the believers here. Amongst them, I learned about myself and the gifts God has given me for use in his kingdom. And yes, there were the times I was ill at ease. It is through those, more than anything else, that I saw God growing me. Drawing me closer to himself. Glorifying himself. And that is what my life is all about.

Who knew being uncomfortable could be part of the abundant life?

It might sound strange, but give it a try sometime. My confidence in what God can do has grown immensely and I feel empowered to live more fearlessly. Yes, things might make me uncomfortable at times but I don’t have to feel trapped by that feeling.

Seek God and be willing to step out in faith past your comfort zone wherever you are. In your work place, in the church, volunteering somewhere, overseas! Whatever he has for you. He is a good Father. We can trust him. Слава Богу. Praise God.

“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” – Philippians 3:10-11

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Josh Evans
Josh served as a short-term missionary in Ukraine. Engage Ukraine gives short-termers hands-on experience as they explore cross-cultural ministry in a Slavic setting.