Christopher E.

Thankfulness in Full

Gospel growth in Christ involves life-long learning, and I recently grasped a powerful facet of walking in the faith from a friend and new believer, who became a Christian in November of last year. The previous summer, this young man lost the love of his life of nearly 10 years. Her body was ravaged by a quickly spreading liver illness, and in mere months, she went from a vivacious and ruddy outdoorswoman to a specter, whose skin stretched across her bones. As R. was mourning her death, he received a follow up invitation to a Bible study for people who have questions about life, God and the Bible. In the middle of this course R. came to know the Christ as His Savior and Lord.

Last week, R. asked me if I would accompany him to the cemetery on the one year anniversary of his girlfriend’s death—it would be a hard day for him, he said. We had just finished reading and discussing the following verses in our discipleship group:

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Col. 2:6–7 ESV).

Later, at the grave, we stood silently for a bit. We cried for a while. We prayed for a long time. Then he prayed, “Thank you, Lord, for your provision in Christ, and that we lack nothing. Amen.” I had nothing left to say; he had said it all.

It is abundantly clear that R. is focused on Christ alone. In his prayer at his girlfriend’s gravesite, there was no hesitation in his voice, no doubt and no regret as he met with His Lord and Savior. Instead there was the giving of thanks for His goodness and mercy with a full heart.

Honestly, there are times when we mourn the fact that we’ve left family, a dear church fellowship, and friends in the U.S. to serve overseas. We are even shallow enough to miss conveniences and comforts like Slurpees and garbage disposals. Our friend R. has taught us that “abounding in thanksgiving” swallows up all that we have lost or left behind. His faith is truly an inspiration.

The joy of seeing people come to Christ here is like watching fireworks explode against a pitch black sky, but these colors don’t burn out or fade away; instead they grow even brighter and are a sign to a disbelieving generation of God’s light piercing the darkness. R. is a brilliant example of that light, and we praise God for blessing Berlin with him.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17 ESV).

 

This was originally published in The Journey devotional. Jay E. serves with MTW in SE Berlin.

Jay E. in Berlin SE Germany Reflection on Sep 21, 2017

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