In the mornings, before the bustle begins, I like to light a candle and pour myself a cup of coffee, creating a welcoming and intimate atmosphere for my quiet time with Jesus. Often as I walk through the house later in the day, I catch a bit of the lingering candle scent and it calls to mind the verses I read that morning, inviting me to think on them again.
Circumstances of life overseas are admittedly very different. Things are made of lesser quality and break more easily. Electricity and water are sporadic. The climate causes everything to mildew. Pollution from burning garbage and poorly maintained autos fills the air and stains everything. Traffic is horrendous, with long delays and complete disorder. People have said to me that they imagine this to be a discouraging place, an overwhelming place. I used to agree with them and struggled a lot with discouragement when we first came to Congo.
I think, though, that anyone anywhere who takes circumstances only at face value can easily feel overwhelmed and discouraged. God is teaching me that I can look at things and see all that is wrong, or like that hint of candle fragrance, I can try to perceive them as reminders of His goodness.
When the power is out or the water is shut off, I can thank Him for being a light to my path and for living water.
When I see the mildew and dirt on the walls of my house that no amount of scrubbing can remove completely, I can be thankful that God sees beyond my outside appearance and washes my heart whiter than snow.
When the stink and smoke of burning garbage assault my nose and burn my eyes, I can pray that I will be the aroma of Christ to those I encounter (2 Corinthians 2:15-16).
For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?” — 2 Corinthians 2:15-16
When we are sitting in a traffic jam, forced to wait, I can thank God for being so patient with me.
I am a long way from giving thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18), but the more I practice it, the easier it becomes.
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” — 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)