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Thankful on Challenging Days

Upon arriving in Japan, I was brimming with gratitude and a profound sense of awe at the opportunity to serve as a missionary among the Japanese people. The feeling of gratitude was truly overwhelming.

Now, after nearly a year here, the initial freshness of the mission field has gradually waned. I’ve encountered various challenges, including the complexities of learning a new language and the frustration of not being able to accomplish tasks in the same manner as I could back home.

For instance, recently we started to attend a church that conducts their services entirely in Japanese. Typically, we split into groups during the service to discuss Bible passages. However, I often struggle to express myself, managing only a few sentences (sometimes only a couple of words!) and hoping they come across coherently. This experience is both humbling and frustrating.

Back in the US, I could easily express myself and share what God is doing in my life. In moments like these, I can either focus on my limitations or choose to thank the Lord for the opportunities to practice Japanese in a safe and supportive environment.

I’ve been learning over this past year or so that thanksgiving and gratitude are spiritual practices as important as prayer, worship, and reading scripture. The Bible frequently exhorts us to be thankful. In fact, thankfulness should hold a central place in our relationship with God. In Paul’s letters, he consistently urges the early church to express gratitude to God even in the midst of their trials and challenges.

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

Being thankful can be difficult on challenging days. But when I shift my perspective to God’s goodness, it humbles me as I acknowledge him as the source of all blessings. This strengthens my faith and grants me the resilience to continue the work God has called me to with joy and peace, knowing that God is in control. I really can be thankful.

by Ray, an OMF Missionary

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