Giving Thanks in All Circumstances

by Matt Chancey

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

“Give thanks in all circumstances,” sounds like one of those throwaway lines in a self-help book. But just pause for a minute and really meditate on what’s being asked of us by God.

All circumstances? Really? Yes. Really.

Okay, but sometimes that’s really, really hard. It’s one of the reasons why the incarnation is so important and relevant. God doesn’t say, “tough it out and smile even when times get hard.” He actually gives us the perfect example to follow in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

Jesus didn’t just tell us to do something; He showed us how it’s done… then invited us to join Him.

It’s not about putting on a false front and forcing yourself into a posture of happiness. Giving thanks the way Jesus did on the cross can mean enduring real suffering— often suffering for others. Jesus suffered mostly in silence. Sometimes we suffer in silence as well. But if we suffer well, our suffering can become an act of thanksgiving.

I witnessed this in a real way recently when I was in the Nuba mountains with Brad. We visited the Agiri Resettlement Camp, where more than 43,000 displaced people (mostly women and children) crowded into straw huts to await the coming rains.

Honey Being Interviewed

We met one of the mothers, a lady called Honey, and she shared with us her story. She had lived in Khartoum most of her life. She had a husband and four children. On April 15th, 2023, when fighting broke out in the city, Honey and her family were completely caught off guard.

Her neighborhood was bombed and shelled, and Honey tragically lost one of her legs, and two of her children.

Thankfully, she heard about a bus chartered by Persecution Project to get Nuba families out of the city, and she was given priority seating with her two surviving children. But she had to leave her husband behind. It was too dangerous for him to travel because the military routinely arrests military-aged men.

But the amazing thing about Honey’s story was how it was punctuated with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving to God for her surviving children. Thanksgiving to God for a way out of the burning city. Thanksgiving to God for friends who can help her now that she’s disabled. Honey said she is grateful that people can look at her and be encouraged by her testimony. She has lost so much, but she still gives thanks.

Agiri Resettlement Camp

Honey told us when she drove off, that was the last she saw of her husband. She hasn’t heard from him since and doesn’t know whether he’s alive or dead, or in prison, or in another country.

I remember thinking to myself as I was listening to her, “Honey’s suffering is a testimony of love and thanksgiving.”

But what I would pray you see is that your partnership in “active compassion” towards the suffering and persecuted like Honey is also an act of thanksgiving.

I hope you’re encouraged. I hope you’re inspired by Honey’s story. And I hope you will continue “giving thanks” through your invaluable partnership with Persecution Project.

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