GIVING THANKS AT ALL TIMES
The honking of taxis and the shouts of street vendors provided a backdrop for our conversation as my friend Joy* and I sipped our cappuccinos in the far corner booth of the Asian version of Starbucks. It was June 2009. I’d been traveling with Fresh Start in East Asia, sharing with church leaders about forgiveness and freedom. But I had a sense that I needed to visit my old hometown at the end of my trip and spend some time with Joy, a single American girl my age who had been my “coffee buddy” when we were both living in the small northeastern Asian city.
Isolated & Alone
It had been almost a year since I’d left Asia, and I had a lot to catch up on. Stories of disappointment and loss emerged as Joy listed one friend after another who had left the area over the past several months. Even her teammates had been gone for extended periods of time, for family emergencies or medical issues. She felt abandoned by everyone, and it seemed as if God wasn’t hearing her.
My heart ached for Joy. I knew what it was like to feel isolated and alone. And I too had struggled with teammates and leaders who didn’t seem to understand. So I was amazed at how God had sovereignly ordained for me to be there for Joy in this difficult season. Through tears, I told Joy that if the only reason I had to go through that pain of some of my experiences in Asia was just so that I could understand and be a friend to her right now, then it was all worth it.
I Thessalonians 5:18 says to “give thanks in all circumstances.” That means even in the difficult circumstances. In ALL circumstances, we can thank the Lord that He is at work in our lives, knowing that He works ALL things together for His good (Romans 8:28). In giving thanks we are declaring that our hope is in Him. And– that we trust Him with our past, our present, and our future!
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son…” Romans 8:28-29 NIV
*Name has been changed.