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 (Manna 61: Church Life)
Giving Thanks in all Circumstances
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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 every morning.

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.

MONEY TROUBLES

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.

ACCEPTING POVERTY

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 God.’”

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 firsthand.

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)

 

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