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Capital Campaign: Building Beyond Walls

Ordinary Days, Extraordinary Thankfulness

By Lexi Lindow

I spent the last year of my life on a missions internship in Peru, South America.  God was good and taught me so much while I was there. I was so looking forward to the last couple big events of my year there, but my world turned upside-down when COVID reached our shores. My team and I went from planning VBS and looking forward to visiting missionaries in other parts of Peru, to being told to prepare to leave at any time so we could be evacuated by the US Government.

The day finally arrived, and we left our Peruvian homes and adopted families for the last time. In the wee hours of the morning, as my roommate and I were making our final preparations and packing last-minute items away, our sweet Peruvian mom packed us a lunch. It wasn’t a lot: some chips, a pack of crackers, and a can of tuna each. I didn’t want to take it, since I wasn’t sure that I would eat it— and I didn’t really want a can of tuna on a plane. But she insisted, saying to us (in Spanish) “you never know, we may not have the opportunity to get food during the day.” None of us had any idea what adventure was waiting once we walked out the door.

Our repatriation flight had been scheduled and we had arrived on time (along with 100+ expats waiting to be brought home), but our flight was delayed. And then it was delayed again. And by the time everything was said and done, there were nearly three days between the time we walked out our family’s front door and the time we boarded the plane to Miami. During that time, most of our fellow travelers had no access to food. Through my Peruvian mother’s wise foresight (and some incredible provision from God), I always had food. I never went hungry; I barely missed a meal. I have never been so thankful for a little can of tuna.

That extraordinary event in my life made me thankful for something incredibly ordinary.

So what’s my point? That extraordinary event in my life made me thankful for something incredibly ordinary. As the human race, we have all experienced some extraordinary things this year. Some things have yet to get back to normal. What does God expect of us when it comes to thankfulness?

Ancient Israel knew a LOT about extraordinary circumstances. After watching Egypt, the country that had enslaved them, go through ten supernatural plagues, God had parted the Red Sea to help them get away from Pharaoh’s army. He then provided for them as they began to travel through the desert—He brought water out of a rock and gave them manna to eat. And some kind of food this was! Every morning, it would appear on the ground, and the people of Israel would go out to gather it—it could be cooked in a variety of ways, and is said to have tasted like honey. (Ex. 12:31). This stuff was basically like donuts from God! You’d think they would know a thing or two about thankfulness! But after a year of eating this manna, the Israelites longed for something else.

 In Numbers 11, we can read the account of how Israel got so tired of manna that they complained to Moses. They were so dissatisfied with the food they were eating that they wished they were back in Egypt as slaves! God was greatly displeased with their complaining, but nonetheless provided quail for them to eat—so much that He said it would come out of their noses! (v.20) When the people began to greedily gather and eat the quail, God’s anger was incited against them, and many of them were struck down. God despises complaining.

 What does this have to do with us today? You’ve probably never been enslaved, and you’ve definitely never gathered manna to feed your family. But God is still God, and He never changes. He tells us in Philippians 2:14-15: “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” When we choose not to complain and are instead thankful, we show the world who (and whose) we are.

So, in the midst of all the crazy happening in the world, God wants us to be thankful. And He has shown us just how much we have to be thankful for! Having to be away from church for a time should make us all the more thankful that we can worship together. Being away from extended family for so long should make us more thankful for times when we can be together (even if they get on your last nerve!) Having to quarantine with our families should make us thankful that we get to live and grow with them.

God hates complaining and wants us to be thankful. Let’s remember that in all the craziness of 2020, the holiday season, and the busyness of everyday life.
I once heard a pastor describe manna like donuts, and as an avid lover of donuts, it stuck with me.

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