Giving Thanks in All Circumstances
Maria Santi Inggriani—Edmonton, Canada
GROWING IN FAITH
I grew up in a large family in
Indonesia. I was the oldest of five children, and even though we didn’t have
much, we never felt poor because we were always provided for. My father worked
very hard at several jobs and my mother was a teacher.
We were baptized in the church as
children and were used to attending services and praying, but I didn’t truly
understand what faith was. I didn’t understand why I needed to pray and go to
church, and I didn’t know Jesus or have a close relationship with Him. However,
I did have a good role model in my mother, who prayed for one to two hours
After I graduated from high
school, I attended a university in a city two hours away from home. I felt
lonely because I had no friends, and I was away from my family. Even though I
lived with my father, who had established a new business there, I no longer had
my siblings or my mother nearby. And because my father worked so hard to
provide for us, I didn’t get to spend much time with him.
I felt so alone and helpless that
I contemplated suicide. But one day I decided that I would ask God to help me
overcome my hopelessness. I started to pray every day for thirty minutes to an
hour. I started reading the Bible, and sometimes I even fasted. Little by
little, God healed me. I received encouragement from reading the Bible, from
the sermons at church, and from talking to other brothers and sisters.
My outlook changed and I became
happier and friendlier to others. More importantly, I felt at peace and
understood how blessed I was to be a child of God and to know Him. I finally
understood what faith was and why it was important, and it stayed with me
through both good and bad times.
Indonesia suffered an economic
crisis at the beginning of 2009 as part of a worldwide recession. My father’s
business was greatly affected by the bad economy, and, with no income, our
family was unable to pay the debts that we owed.
Everything changed at home, which
became a somber place with no more peace or laughter. My father was under a lot
of stress and began to worry about our future. He talked to me about many issues
that showed his anxiety, such as if he were to die soon and the family could
not pay off the debts, or what would happen if he were put in prison.
He told me about his insurance and
asked me to take care of the family because I was the oldest child. He even taught
me how to rebuild his business if he had to declare bankruptcy. It made me so
sad and scared to see my father like this.
I had never seen my father cry
before, but I saw him shed tears in front of the family because of these
problems. It broke my heart. Our situation was difficult to accept because I
didn’t want to end up being poor. I was afraid of what would happen to us and
didn’t know what I could do to help.
When the crisis hit my father’s
business, he didn’t tell my younger siblings how difficult things were. They
only knew that the business wasn’t doing well, and they did what they could to
help the family.
Every day I prayed for thirty
minutes to one hour. Whenever I prayed to God, I would shed tears over our
difficulties. I had so many questions about what would happen if we lost
everything. How would I continue my father’s business? What could I do to feed
my family? And what would I need to do to complete my final year of university?
I told Jesus everything. During my
prayers I felt that my heart was telling me, “This is a chance to prove your
faith. This is an opportunity to use your faith in any situation. Prove that
everything is given by God so that no matter what happens, you will say ‘Thank
After this experience, I faced a dilemma:
on one hand I didn’t want to be poor, but on the other hand this was a chance
for me to put my faith into action. So, I tried to accept the possibility that
we would lose everything.
I imagined what it would be like
if I didn’t have money to buy food—maybe I would have to eat rice and salt
every day. I would be dirty and hungry all the time. Maybe I would have to walk
everywhere, including to church.
After I imagined all of these
negative things happening, I accepted it. I could even thank God because I
would still be alive even if I became poor and hungry. As long as I was alive,
I would still be able to serve Him, and I realized that living for God was all
that I needed.
Encouraged By a Miracle
Even though our problems were
still unresolved, I was no longer scared or worried. I knew that God would take
care of us, and all we had to do was to have faith and trust in Him.
My father decided to sell his car
to help pay off some of the debts, and I helped him put an advertisement
online. I found someone who wanted to
purchase the car and we were ready to hand it over to him after we received his
payment. But when we were making arrangements for him to take the car, he said
that he didn’t want the car anymore.
He explained that he knew we
needed the car and that we could keep the money he had already paid. We were so
surprised and yet thankful to God. It was a miracle that encouraged us when we
didn’t know what to do.
The money that we received helped
us greatly. We still had a lot of debt, but we were able to pay for our daily
expenses, and that was enough for us.
JESUS IS ALL WE NEED
After going through this difficult
time, I learned that trials help us understand things that we didn’t understand
before. It is a chance for us to grow. If our life is smooth, we don’t need any
help. But if we never need help, we cannot understand what it means to trust
and rely on God.
God sent me this trial so that I
could learn about faith. What was important was that I accepted the situation
and trusted everything to God. Like Job said, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has
taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).
Even though it was very painful to
think of what could happen, I overcame all of my worries and fears because of
Jesus. If we lose everything—money, friends, children, or parents—we can still
survive. We will have Jesus, our wonderful Lord, and that is all that we need.
As it says in Ecclesiastes, everything
in this world is vanity. What makes our lives worthwhile is having Jesus, pleasing
Him, and serving Him with all our heart until our last breath.
Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first
the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added
to you.” This promise from Jesus is true. I know because I experienced it
God knows our heart. If we seek
after worldly things, our life will be pointless. But when we seek after God,
He will not let us go through something that we cannot handle. If we face hard
times, all we need to do is trust Him, because He has a purpose in what He has
planned for us, and it is for the best.
[W]e also glory in tribulations, knowing that
tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character,
hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out
in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom 5:3-5)
God is our strength and reliance.
No matter what happens, we are doing what is right and pleasing to Him when we
give thanks in all circumstances.
[I]n everything give thanks; for this is the
will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thess 5:18)