Got a few spare minutes? Use them! Don’t get distracted by your phone, check this simple and short study to grab some thoughts on thankfulness, inspired by the story of Isaac from Nigeria. It might only take you a few minutes to read, but hopefully the words and ideas will stick with you the whole day!
Isaac was only there to help. The night before, a bunch of extremists had charged through a Christian area of town, killed 15 innocent people and burnt homes.
Isaac, was trying to find survivors when he and 22 other young men were bundled into the back of a police van. They were falsely accused of planning reprisal killings and sent to prison.
They shared cells with extremist Islamic prisoners, many of whom would have targeted and killed Christians. But in the midst of immense hatred, this group of young men chose to be thankful. Each day they would meet together to fast and pray. They would sing songs and read from the Bible. They were thankful for God’s goodness and provision, despite all that had been taken from them.
Then, amazing things started to happen. Some who were ill got prayed for and were healed. Other prisoners, drawn by the example of the Christians, started joining the meetings. Over 20 people chose to start following Jesus.
Despite everything, Isaac and his friends were thankful. They chose to embrace where they were and what they had, and God responded.
“I give God all honour who enabled me to share Christ’s love in prison. It was a sweet miracle to see 20 men giving their lives to Christ. My heart is at peace, I have no regrets about spending two years behind bars”
Read Psalm 23
‘… You prepare a table before me, in the presence of my enemies’
Isaac and his friends chose to accept where they were at. Arrested, beaten, falsely accused and thrown into prison – it would be hard to face that and stay thankful. But they chose to. That wasn’t a simple one-off decision, but something they had to do on a daily, hourly, almost minute-by-minute basis. They would continually make the choice to find God in their midst, and respond to him with thankfulness.
Amazingly, even in the darkest of places, their attitudes and actions revealed Jesus to others.
Being thankful when life goes completely wrong takes effort. It’s almost a discipline – or even an art. It’s something we need to take time to develop – choosing to find God in the little things and not longing for the next big stage of our lives. It’s so easy to be distracted by what we don’t have that we forget to be thankful for what we do have. With Jesus, what we have is an incredible hope – the hope that we need fear no evil, for he is with us, leading us and comforting us. It’s a promise summed up at the end of Psalm 23 – “surely goodness and mercy will follow me”. Now that is something to definitely be thankful for.
Thank God for Isaac and his friends. Ask God to protect those who find themselves in prison simply because they love Jesus. Ask God to give them strength, courage and a way of finding peace and joy where they’re at.
Ask God to challenge you. As you spend a few days without all the benefits of the internet, do you find yourself moaning about what you can’t do? Make the decision to be thankful, and try to find God in the smallest, simplest details of your life.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.