An Attitude of Gratitude is a Beautiful Thing to Have in Life!
A Christian missionary tried to destroy our lives but a Hindu family gave us shelter! Talk about irony!
When someone says “Thank you”, it is a vivid expression of who that person is in the inside. A person with the attitude of gratitude is generally someone who has gone through a lot in life, and yet, has come on top of it all. In life we cannot avoid suffering. It comes in many forms. But the purpose of all suffering is to make us humans made in the image of God. Suffering makes us and shapes us into becoming who we ought to be. The Bible says that suffering refines us like fire refines pure gold. However, not everyone ends up becoming the kind of person suffering could make us.
Most people, when facing suffering, become bitter and resentful. Only a few allow themselves to be shaped into the image of God. Those who humble themselves, and allow God to shape their lives by the trials of suffering end up becoming grateful. They become humble, kind, compassionate and loving.
My wife grew up in a well to do family in Manipur, India. Father-in-law was able to send all his six children through to the university education. When I met her, she was doing her Master of Divinity fully financed by her parents.
On the other hand, I was abandoned at birth. At 17 Christ rescued me from the life of sin and death. At the time of meeting my would-be wife, I was graduating with the Bachelor of Theology. To pay for my tuition, I had to get up every day at 4AM and work in the college kitchen until 8AM. For my pocket money, a pastor in western Nepal used to send me 25 rupees (about 40 cents at that time) a month.
After graduation, I had no promise of any ministry opportunity. I had no family to return to. But I had fallen in love with this beautiful girl from the Northeast. The day I asked her to marry me, this is what I said “I have no one and nothing in my hand. I have no promise of any job or ministry. All I have is God. Will you marry me?” Her response was, “if God is with you, that is enough for me.”
We got engaged in the month of May 1992 in Manipur with the hope of getting married sometimes in 1993 after her graduation. That same year, civil war broke out in Manipur. My wife got stuck in Bangalore. I was in Kathmandu teaching in a Bible School with a salary of one thousand rupees a month. The civil war destroyed father-in-law’s business. They could not come out of Manipur and my fiancée could not go back home. It was a sad period for Thangeo family. War is such a cruel thing that is often thrust upon the innocent people.
We had hoped for a beautiful marriage in Manipur. But the civil war left us with no hope. Finally we got married on a cold January 10 in Kathmandu in 1993. We had no money to buy warm clothes nor could we buy our wedding clothes. I was gifted a suit and my wife borrowed a wedding saree from a church member. There were no family members from either side.
After the wedding we stayed in a room provided by the church where I was hoping to become a pastor after marriage. It was a cold room with nothing in it. The church gave two thousand rupees a month as my salary. We started our married life totally from the scratch.
To make matters worse, I ended up having disagreement with the American missionary who hired me to become the pastor of her church. We left that church after six months. The American missionary made our lives as miserable as possible by spreading all kinds of rumors. Anywhere we tried to work, she would use her power to stop us from working there. In divine providence, a Hindu family allowed us to stay in their house. An American missionary wanted to destroy us but a Hindu family gave us shelter. Talk about the irony!
Fortunately as time went by, not everyone listened to her. We started to get opportunity to teach in some Bible Schools. We also started a prayer fellowship which later became known as Hope Church. Some Nepali pastor friends came to our rescue and soon our roots were able to find some ground in Kathmandu.
As we look back in those difficult days, we are reminded of God’s amazing grace that was so real to us. Over the years as our ministry has taken different shapes and forms, the suffering we went through became the source of strength and inspiration.
Because we were faithful to God when life was tough, God also brought so many wonderful people who made our suffering easier to face. God met our needs in so many wonderful ways.
There were times when we were sick and could not go to the hospital, but God did miracles for us in more than few occasions. At one time my wife was suffering from a terrible pain in her knee for a long time. We had no money to see a doctor. Then, there was a healing crusade conducted by a preacher named Roger Houstma. It was held in St. Javier School ground in Jawalakhel. My wife could barely walk from the bus stop. As the meeting was going on, many people went forward to be prayed for. But we were sitting in the middle of the ground. After a while of worshiping there, my wife felt that she could fully stand on her legs and soon the pain disappeared. From that day, the pain left her forever. That was such a wonderful work of grace.
There were financial miracles too about which I cannot list in this short post. There were miraculous deliverances from bad people who wanted to harm us. As our church began to grow along with our son (they both were born in the end of 1993), the Lord never left us helpless when some needs arose.
In all these trials of life, my wife has never once complained. She has remained ever grateful to God for the smallest blessings we experienced. When going gets tough, we kneel before the Lord and he has never disappointed us.
Now as we climb our fifties and are almost reaching sixty, just like 30 years ago, we remain grateful and hopeful that the God who took care of us in our 20s and 30s will also take care of us in our 60s and 90s. Gratefulness makes us appreciate every little thing God has blessed our life with. How true are the words of the Psalmist that say “weeping may last through the night but joy comes in the morning!”
If you are going through hard time, instead of being worried and anxious about it, put your trust in God who is able to see you through no matter how hard the situation might look like. Don’t allow bitterness and discouragement rule your mind. If people are coming against you, forgive them and leave them in the hand of God. Even in need and sickness, keep your eyes on Jesus who is the same yesterday today and forever. He will never leave you nor forsake you!
Be thankful in every circumstance and God will always be there for you when you need him!