Every now and then, I’ve found it a valuable exercise to remind myself what I have gained by being an Adventist Christian. It’s easy to become complacent and forget what we’ve been saved from and for when our lives are comfortable, when our faith is sure, and when we have been walking the Way for a while.
A healthy and dynamic faith will experience growth and change, and during these times, faith is challenged, stretched, and pushed. This is healthy, but it is also hard.
That’s why it’s important to reflect and remember. As Moses urged the people: “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them” (Deut. 4:9, NIV).
Don’t get me wrong, being a Christian is not about personal gain (at least, it shouldn’t be). And I also don’t mean focusing on the Sweet By-and-By: abstract ideas of eternal life and the new earth. Those things are great. But they’re not enough to keep faith robust and growing.
Beyond the spiritual benefits are some very practical considerations to be thankful for. Our church gives us family members around the world. We have people who love and care for us when our own families are sometimes toxic or far away.
Personally, I have tendencies toward impatience (read a bit of a temper), prejudice, self-doubt, and over-indulgence (just to name a few) that the love of Christ in me and for me fights against.
I am thankful for the Adventist health message. I am proud to say I’ve never had an alcoholic beverage. I fear if I’d been more exposed to alcohol in my life, I’d be susceptible to alcoholism.
I’m glad for my Christian parents, who trained me to the best of their knowledge to love God and follow His will for my life. I’m thankful that they modeled loyalty to their church, provided me with an Adventist education, and built a home of love and security to grow up in. I was protected from many unhealthy influences.
When I’ve struggled to love my wife, I’ve been reminded to lay down my life as Christ laid down His life for me. Not just theoretically, I’ve felt Jesus close, sharing my pain and encouraging me through the valleys. My wife falling pregnant and our experience of parenthood, after years of longing and uncertainty, answered many prayers and tears. Not everyone’s prayers are answered in the same way, but for us, in our little household, it was another opportunity to test our faith and then to give praise to God for an undeserved blessing.
Beyond the practical, lifestyle things, God has pulled me out of drowning in a sea of doubt and uncertainty about the future with assurance that He cares about me. I’ve felt Him close by when I’ve suffered from internal and external chaos and loss.
Not everyone has suffered the setbacks and doubts that I have. Not everyone has experienced the blessings and advantages I’ve been given. That’s OK. You’ll have your own struggles and experiences. I’m not more holy than you. Neither am I less. All have fallen short. We are not to compare or strive to match others but to glorify God in the field in which we’ve been planted.
The love of God is life changing, and it is definitely worth remembering and then sharing that good news with others. The fact is, the things God is doing for us, in our lives and characters, these are things we should be grateful for every day. These are things we can share. Maybe we would be more effective witnesses as Christians if we spent more time sharing the good news of God and His amazing work in our lives, rather than focusing on the negativity in the world and trying to use fear and uncertainty to give people the truth.
I don’t know about you, but I’m glad for what God has done and continues to do in my life. I’m inspired when I hear others’ stories of what He has done for them. And I’m keen to keep sharing them.
“Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:31, NIV).