17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 (NABRE)
I am certain that the above verses are one of the most difficult commands the Lord our God instructs us to follow.
Many may say:
How can I pray without ceasing if my prayers don’t seem to be answered?
How can I thank God if I just lost my loved one?
How can I thank God when everybody around me talks evil about me?
How can I thank God when I don’t even have a Job?
How can I thank God when He, being God, did nothing to prevent that little boy/girl from being raped and chopped into pieces? So the list goes on and on.
I know it is hard to understand and to assimilate such situations, but God’s understanding is above our understanding. And one thing is for sure, He is not the author of the bad things happening in the world today; we are.
It is true that He has the power to prevent it from happening in the first place, but instead, He allows it. Why? - is always the question, and the answer for many is “I don’t know”.
I recall going through bad times in my life that, every time I think about them, it only serves to bring sadness in my heart.
You see, I was born from a rich family and while I was a kid, everything seemed to be okay, until one day we lost everything: Shops, Cars and many other things.
Our life changed from having a lot to having nothing.
I remember thinking every night while sleeping on the bed and sometimes on the floor with just a tiny sheet on the ground, where will my next meal come from; as a kid, it was very hard for me. I did not understand why God had allowed such things to happen.
My father was not a bad person, he helped many people with jobs, food and many other things and still, we lost everything.
And here is a little story about my family:
My father was a white man from Europe who went to Africa and married a black woman. There he started business from scratch. He started with just one sewing machine and in a couple of years, he had already accumulated many sewing machines, a number of apartments, buildings, food stores, etc. He had helped the province to open new roads to many locations from the capital, and that is just to name a few things of what he did. So back then, he was one of the richest men in town.
During that time, the country was under the control of white Europeans who possessed almost everything the country had. The black community was not happy with it so they started a civil war to liberate it from the colony.
So after the war was over and the black people came into power, they overthrew all white people from the country, taking along with them, everything that belonged to the white man.
It was then that we lost everything. My mother, along with many other ladies who had married white men, were not given the chance to claim anything at all.
She then started from scratch in a small farm out of the country where I lived for a period of time. It was hard for us to adapt ourselves to a new way of life.
But my struggle did not end there.
After I had finished my studies, I found myself living in a foreign land where I got married to a native woman. There, I started my family with her where she become the mother of my children.
Because of my financial limitations, I ended up living in my mother-in-law’s house along with her other children. What a difficult time…
Well, I can only tell you how merciful God has been to me, despite everything.
It has been so hard for us that, one day my son asked me why we prayed so much every morning, and still, things seemed to be so hard for our family.
To be honest, I had the same questions just as he had, until one day I felt as if this voice was telling me to always remember that God was not the one causing people to go through problems.
The voice continued; “When bad things happen to my creation, I am never the one who causes it to happen."
I see it happen;
I have the power to stop it;
I have the power to prevent it from happening;
I allow it, because I use it, for what I want to happen.
Then the voice took me to the book of Romans 8:28 (NASB), where it says: "and we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
And then the spirit reminded me how Joseph ended up in Egypt.
It reminded me how he was first thrown into the pit by his own brothers and then sold as slave in Egypt.
It reminded me how while still in Egypt, he(Joseph) was blamed of things he never did and then placed in prison where he suffered for several years, but the Scripture tells us; "...and God was with him." Genesis 39:20-21”
How can that be? - is the question for many...
It also reminded me of how Job suffered as well, being a very righteous man.
So I said to my son, "Be patient and wait on God, for He knows what is good for us."
"Just remember that being a prayerful person, doesn’t make you exempt from evil attacks", I said.
- It was through those tough times in my home land that allowed me to appreciate every single thing I was blessed with;
- It was thanks to those tough times that I endured the difficulties during my school time, somewhere in the world where there was only me and no one else to depend on;
- It was through those bad times in my wife’s family house, which forced me to seek God for help, to depend on Him, and fully trust in Him for everything in my life;
Father God in heaven, who reigns over all creation.
Today, in the Name of your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, I give you thanks for being there with me when I most needed you in my life, even when it seemed as though you were not there.
Help us O Lord to trust you with all our heart, to love you more and depend on you always. Amen