As I approach the end of my first month of mission deployment here in Italy, my tendency is to be positively amazed by how things are going my way. Starting with the fact that we have a solid weekly youth event, I have the support of a great group of volunteer leaders, the school welcomed my talents and invited me to collaborate with the year book and thus keep in close proximity with our teenagers. Not only that, but we were able to find, have an inspection, and sign our housing contract within the first 45 days of my arrival. We have been given furniture, household goods and even a 7 passenger vehicle, which is simply way more than what I was expecting. In the midst of this flood of blessings it is easy to be grateful to God, His people and His providence. In fact, I find it way too easy.
While I do believe we have God’s favor in the midst of so many positive things going our way, I too want to point out that God is the God in abundance and in times of want. His presence is not any bigger when we are happy. In my experience, and in the life of many biblical teachers, prophets, apostles and even Jesus himself, God’s presence shouts in our moments of sorrow, despair and plain confusion. In Phillipians 4:11-13 the apostle Paul writes, “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
It is good to give thanks to God for all the blessings he pours in our lives. However, let us not be blinded by our abundances to the point of only acknowledging God’s presence when things go our way or when things go easy. It is through tribulations that our character is tested, our hopes are translated into perseverance, and resiliency shapes itself into faith. It is precisely faith, our longing for Goodness, Justice and Love which leads us back to our Creator, back to God.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12