Beauty From Ashes: The Struggles of Bible Translation Provide a Deeper Understanding of Easter

Beauty From Ashes: The Struggles of Bible Translation Provide a Deeper Understanding of Easter

March 21, 2023

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Translators in the Simar Cluster share their stories of hardship and how Christ is glorified.

In Asia, seven languages with some linguistic overlap make up a translation project known as the Simar Cluster. Despite the availability of Scripture in related dialects, the lack of heart language translations for these people groups represents a significant obstacle: they don’t have God’s Word in a language they understand.

Because the project began in 2019, it’s not surprising that many of the initial sets of goals were delayed by the global COVID pandemic. But despite struggles and setbacks, the translation teams have come through the hard times with a deeper appreciation of God’s ability to work everything together for good (Romans 8:28).

Arriving on Time after Repeated Delays

One translator shared a story with us about an opportunity the team had to attend a translation workshop after travel restrictions loosened. They were excited but anxious about the 6+ hour journey.

They left early Sunday morning, planning ahead for possible road troubles such as mudslides. The team also made plans to stop along the way to attend a church service, but when they encountered several delays, they thought they’d miss it.

Unbeknownst to the travelers, the church had altered their service time to accommodate other church events scheduled for the day. When they arrived in that village, the church service was just starting!

The translator explained that, while their timely arrival may have seemed like a stroke of luck, he knew otherwise. “As a believer in Christ, I see that God is always good and ready to help those who require [it].”

The team arrived at their final destination—the translation workshop—before dark, just as they intended.

Leaning on God in Difficult Times

Doni, a translator from a different team in the Simar Cluster, testified to the story of God’s faithfulness in a time of loneliness. 

“Earlier this year, a dear team member passed a test and accepted a new job opportunity,” Doni shared. “I felt very sad and alone.” Soon after, the computer systems crashed. Doni, who was responsible for computer operations, thought they had lost all of the work they’d spent so long producing.

“I was really struggling with these setbacks and feeling isolated,” he remembers. 

But this wasn’t the end of his frustrations. “The internet in my region was not working, so I was asked to go to another town. I could only cry out, ‘Lord, why is this happening to me? I can’t take this anymore. I am not strong enough.’”

But anyone familiar with Paul’s letters to the church in Corinth will know that our weakness is nothing but an opportunity for God to flex! 

The team experienced some delays over a couple days, but God is faithful! They finished the consultant check of the final four chapters of the Gospel of Luke.

In light of such an accomplishment, Doni said, “I came to the conclusion that during every difficulty, God was with me. God allowed it to happen because he wants to make me into a person who has a firm foundation.”

Jesus’ Suffering Hits Harder in Heart Language

Mr. Pias, a pastor and translator on one of the teams, shared how God’s Word in his language moved him while reviewing the Gospel of Luke.

“I was asked to read Luke 22:39-46. As I read the translation slowly and clearly in my own language, I was not able to finish. I looked down and couldn’t hold back my tears. 

“I was able [to] join in the experience [and see] how Jesus in Gethsemane struggled with what he was about to face. It was like I was in front of Jesus, seeing the drops of blood directly. I knew that Jesus was preparing to give his life for the sake of my salvation.”

Despite having read this passage over and over again in his region’s national language—even preaching on it to his congregation—Pastor Pias told us that “when I plunged into translation work, I experienced the love of Jesus in a much deeper way.”

The Meaning of Easter

The Bible is filled with stories of God using human suffering to weave a beautiful tapestry. From Joseph’s time in Egypt, to Elijah’s struggles against King Ahab, to the kingdom of Judah’s exile to Babylon, God consistently turns mourning to joy.

Each of these stories points us to Jesus himself. Jesus, the only truly innocent person, took on extreme emotional, physical, and spiritual torment. Jesus, the Son of God, allowed himself to be beaten and murdered. He felt the weight of sin despite having no sin. He saw his father turn away from him—for us. 

Be encouraged by the reminder of God’s faithfulness from our friends working on the Simar Cluster project. Take a few moments during this Easter season to reflect on your own struggles and the pain in your life where you feel most alone. And reflect on the truth that even in the midst of our darkest moments, we can look to the cross and proclaim that all things are possible with God.

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