Today is Thanksgiving in the United States and although today is like any other day for us in Haiti, I can’t help but reflect on the whole giving thanks thing. All in all I have a lot to be thankful for—food to eat, a roof over my head, a loving wife, genuine community, and good health for starters.
This isn’t always true but in general I wonder if it is easier to pick out what we’re thankful for when we’re encouraged to do so on one particular day.
But what about the other 364 days of the year?
This is what I’m asking myself this morning—how am I doing with giving thanks with a grateful heart on all the non-Thanksgiving days? And if I could add up the moments when I expressed my gratitude on these other 364 days, how many of those would have been during a moment when all is well and in order compared to the chaotic or discouraging moments?
A friend of ours recently wrote about remaining thankful despite the valleys we sometimes find ourselves in. I found her words encouraging and relevant to the questions I’ve been asking. She shared the following verse:
I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Always. Continually. All circumstances. Give thanks not just on one day and not just haphazardly either but do it well, do it often, and do it with rejoicing.
What a beautiful and hopeful calling. I’m choosing to trust that today on Thanksgiving and on all the other days of the year, God will give me the strength and grace necessary to live out this calling through Christ Jesus.
I’m also encouraged by people here in Haiti like Manoucha. We recently visited this young woman who has faced tough challenges yet still manages to keep moving forward.
We met her for the first time in the summer of 2013 after she received a goat through World Concern’s Hope to Kids program. The program is meant to provide students with a goat—and therefore a source of income—which can help them pay for school and meet their basic needs.
Manoucha is a little old for her grade at school. As a 20-year-old she is in the same grade as her 16-year-old sister, Dieunike, because health issues in past years have kept her out of school and at home.
“Now I am well but sometimes I still get sick which means I cannot go to school or work,” Manoucha said.
It hasn’t been an easy road however she was able to begin school this year on time, for the second year in a row, and is now only two years away from graduating high school!
“I choose to keep giving effort at school so that I can one day help my family,” she said. “I want to study to become a nurse because I like this. Then if someone in my family is sick I can help them.”
Manoucha is already finding ways to help her family. Her goat has given offspring and she gave one of the kids to her sister Dieunike so she can also benefit. The gift of one goat has a multiplying effect within this family. It is encouraging to see Manoucha continue to persevere despite her challenges.
The call to “rejoice always” in 1 Thessalonians is for all of us whatever season of life we find ourselves in. This is an important reminder for me today but also for tomorrow and all the other tomorrows in this next year and I hope it gives you hope as well.
Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends and family.