Thanksgiving in Our Circumstances

Thanksgiving in Our Circumstances

This past weekend I had the privilege of representing the Fresno Pacific University Foundation at the Pacific District Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches Biennial Convention in Peoria, AZ. I was grateful for the opportunity to meet new leaders and engage church constituents in the areas of biblical finances, estate planning and planned giving solutions that benefit both the church and Christian higher education. It was encouraging to hear how God is moving in our churches, in their various contexts and in the variety of circumstances in which they find themselves.

Some are on the cusp of a Spirit-led adventure, having recently planted a new church. Others are joyfully experiencing exciting growth and a steady flow of baptisms, even as their context may present real challenges. Still others are finding ways to bless their communities through presence-based ministries including the creation of public neighborhood spaces and creative community development initiatives. Ultimately, all are discerning the Spirit’s leading to engage in a season of revitalization to reengage in their mission with renewed fervor. God’s faithfulness can truly be observed in our churches as they navigate their present circumstances, led by the Holy Spirit and strengthened by the encouragement of tangible community!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

The temptation, of course, is for us to focus on our varied and challenging circumstances and succumb to discouragement and disillusionment in the face of our daily realities. Instead, the Apostle Paul invites us to enter the flow of God’s will for us as Christ followers: rejoicing always, continuing in prayer and expressing thanks in every circumstance.

In the FPU community we have so much to be thankful for, even as many of us continue to face head-on a variety of personal and/or work-related challenges and circumstances. I am reminded of the PDC convention speaker, Joshua Butler, and his challenge to conference participants to see their circumstances through the lens of our God, the one who pursues us with his grace and love, even as we walk through the most challenging of circumstances in our lives and work. Jesus reminds us of this aspect of God’s pursuit, even as he says in John 15:16 (NIV), “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”

As I serve on the team at the FPU Foundation, Jesus’ words give me daily strength and encouragement to join with him in all that he wants to accomplish in and through our ongoing work. Likewise, in the broader FPU community, this transforming knowledge of God’s loving pursuit—and our practice of cultivating an attitude of thanksgiving despite any circumstance of life—motivates and empowers us to do our work with joy and expectancy, all the while overflowing with thanksgiving for our mighty God who pursues us with his unending grace and love.


Steven Redekop

Director of FPU Foundation Development and Legacy Gifts