How do I give thanks in the tough times?

At one time or another, we all face difficulties. We get so caught up in our problems we fail to realize that there are many things for which we can be thankful, starting with our very existence.

Almost 30 years ago Capi, a young teenager in Rwanda, ran from her home as her parents and brother were murdered by warriors during a civil war. With nothing more than the clothes she was wearing she walked without food or water until she reached Lake Tanganyika where she boarded a small boat that was picking up refugees and depositing them at a UN refugee camp in a neighboring country.

For seven years she lived in a tent and then a cinder block building with no privacy and no running water. Her situation seemed hopeless–a frightened orphan, living in a foreign land where the people around her spoke a language different from her own. She constantly struggled with hunger, loneliness, fear of sexual assault and the dread that pervaded the camp. Yet, she recalled the Bible verses she was taught as a child and daily thanked God for her life even as she cried out the words of Psalm 13: “How long, O Lord…”

At a church in the camp, she met Canesius, a teacher, who was also a refugee. Despite cultural, language and age differences, the two decided to get married. For three more years they lived in the camp unable to return to their homelands. Then one day they were selected to be sent out of the camp, and by a miracle ended up in Virginia arriving with only a few dollars for resettlement, and finding some new friends at a next-door church, Capi and Canesius started their American life with a whole new set of challenges; learning a new language, finding housing, getting jobs, working out transportation and paying the fees to become U.S. citizens.

Today Capi radiates joy as she expresses her thanksgiving to God for all the ways she and Canesius have been blessed—jobs, schooling for their two boys, a car, a Habitat for Humanity home and a church home where Capi is a deacon. Though poor in material things they are rich in the knowledge that they are children of God and are helping new refugees.

So, are you thankful for the job that God has blessed you with? How about family and friends, the place you call home, or the freedoms you enjoy as Americans? How about the computer or phone on which you are reading this post? If God has provided you with some of these luxuries in life, then you are truly blessed and ought to thank God for them!

Remember, however, it’s not things that will make you happy in tough times. In the Bible, Paul the Apostle wrote to friends in Philippi saying:

…I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ    (Phil. 3:8)

All that is required for true joy is a relationship with our Creator:

Take delight in the Lord,and he will give you the desires of your heart.   (Psalm 37:4)

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.   (Phil. 4:19)

When we have a relationship with God, we can be content in situations.

Once we have our hearts and eyes set on God, everything else falls into its proper place . Thank God with your whole heart this week! He promises to never leave you or forsake you, just as he did for Capi!

Bible verses are quoted from the New International Version.