Written By Ovie
When God says rejoice (Psalm 32:1) and give thanks in all situations (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), it is not because He feels like instructing us to do so or wants us to be indifferent about our pain or worries. However, it is because He provides us with something tangible to hold on to, which is Himself.
Now, let me explain in detail. You see, 2020 has been an interesting year for me. I started the year oblivious about a lot of things in my life and future. When I traveled to Abuja (Nigeria) at the beginning of the year in January, I was clueless about where I would secure an internship for my Masters program. Also, I struggled to stay above water with the responsibilities that came with being in graduate school as well as thinking about my life's purpose.
A few months after my move, I found a job that accommodated my internship needs and began working. I enjoyed the opportunities it presented, thinking I had found my life's calling. Periodically, we went on assignment to remote villages, installing solar panels that provided its residents with electricity. But I soon had doubts about continuing with the organization long-term. Not that they did anything wrong, I just felt uncertain as to if that was where God wanted me to remain.
Shortly after, I had serious covid-19 symptoms and was advised to remain at home until my symptoms subsided. I got tested for the virus, but never went back for the results as I began to feel better not so long after. At the end of the internship program, I was then offered a job with the company. Although I was grateful to be considered for the role; however, I felt it wasn’t in line with my purpose.
Hence, I wrestled with the decision to take the opportunity or let it go. After a few weeks spent pondering, I accepted the offer only to quit one month later because I believe that the path God wants me to follow, is different from the one I tried to carve for myself.
Sometimes, when we sacrifice our desires for God’s plans for our lives, we almost always expect that things will begin to unfold rapidly, but that usually isn’t the case—it takes time. I still haven't gotten the promises that I expect from God, but I can tell you one thing I am grateful for—I have gotten to know more about my heavenly Father and who I am in Him. To others, this might not be a big deal, however, in this Christian journey, it is everything.
That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
The more we know about God, and grow in intimacy with Him, the more everything else we seek becomes less of a problem (Matthew 6:33).
So back to my reasoning about why God would ask us to be in a constant state of gratitude regardless of our circumstance, the Bible says in Romans 8:32 (NKJV) “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
From this passage, we can deduce that Jesus Christ is more than enough for us. So when He tells us to be thankful, cheer up, and encourage others when we don't have it in us to do so, it is because He already has the answer to our problems.
You see, when we desire to know God more, we realize that the relationship we have with Him, is not about the goals we can set for ourselves or the promises laced in the Bible, but rather about the journey of faith in God, and how He reveals Himself to us along that journey as we seek and love Him with all our hearts, minds and strengths (Deuteronomy 4:29, Matthew 22:37).
If I wasn’t faced with letting go of what I thought I wanted, I wouldn't have realized I had all these complex emotions, doubts, fears, and insecurities inside me that I have to walk through. Our walk with Christ is about Him teaching us how to deal with all of that which hinders our spiritual growth, so we can run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Since the start of this journey, I have been disciplined by God in many areas, especially in areas of love and gentleness. It has been painful and not pleasant, however, it is producing a harvest of righteousness and peace (Hebrews 12:11).
Yes, I haven't received the promises yet, still, I will rejoice and be glad because of what I have learned about Him so far. I think that if He hasn't fulfilled His promises to you yet, it might mean that there are things He needs you to learn that are of higher importance than the promise you expect to come into fruition now.
So, I keep trusting in His perfect will and timing, despite the discomfort, pain, and sometimes, shame. I know according to His word that anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame (Romans 10:11). This is why we have to rejoice and give thanks always because we have a God who can change our situation in a second at His command, but chooses to be patient—taking us through the journey step by step, little by little so that we can have a deeper understanding of Who He truly is.
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About The Author: Oghene-ovie Onoriode Agboge is a civil engineering graduate from Central University in Ghana, currently undergoing an MSc in energy studies at the University of Ibadan.
He is a man seeking to understand the world through the word of God.