Today’s blizzard reminds me of wintery days at Cornell where the trek over the river and through the woods to class would require I bring two extra changes of clothes: one for if the temperature dropped and another for if the temperature rose.
Back then I seemed to never complain about the weather. Perhaps it was the enormous icicles cascading over boulders below a tiny suspension bridge that was too glorious to ever think of my own freezing toes. But nowadays, sitting in my cozy home in front of a fire, I confess, I seem to have everything to complain about.
But today is not one of those days.
Give thanks always and for everything¹
This means even when you want to cry or punch something. Those aren’t mutually exclusive either. I imagine Paul, in deep sorrow and rivers of tears, giving thanks that he is even allowed to cry. Recently I started to grumble, “God, did You really call me to this unity thing?” His gentle answer came through a six and a half foot Somali boy on a sled for the first time in his life.
We were waist deep in snow having a semi-spiritual conversation, and he apologetically said, “Christianity is very confusing. It seems like every group of Christians I meet says that the other groups aren’t real Christians.” His words cut to my heart. “God! It’s not working! All the prayer and fasting and events…” But praise God for an answer to my question! Yes, we are called to continue contending for unity in Boston and around the globe.
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful with thanksgiving²
Four years ago my brother began attending a small school outside of Boston that claimed no Christian fellowships. At this point I was stagnant in my faith and had zero intention of ever working in campus ministry, but for some reason I began praying for that school. Four years later, still praying by the grace of God, I received an email from two entrepreneurial students who claimed to be leaders of two underground Christian fellowships at this school.
We met over coffee, and they excitedly explained that despite being unrecognized by the school administration, there are over two hundred Christians in their fellowships. And in the underground, they are dreaming with God of an extensive online network of Christian students on Boston-area campuses, united in brotherly love. Give thanks that your prayers may be being answered as seeds in the underground, long before you see the tree.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything with prayer and thanksgiving, present your requests to God³
The most common question I am asked is how to not be anxious. And every time I answer I end up preaching to myself. One of these times, I was anticipating utter failure in a series of apologetics talks our group was hosting, while simultaneously compiling a Bible study of Philippians. Repenting of my cynicism and preparing to be thankful if only three students came, I was actually stunned into silence when on the first day the room was packed full. But it wasn’t even the numbers that, as I looked around, made me fall to my knees in gratitude.
Table after table I saw new faces mixed with old. Freshmen who had brought their entire hall; I saw the staff from three of the different campus ministries sitting and sharing a meal together. If that wasn’t enough to utterly destroy my cynicism, it was this: at the center of the room, Cru and IV students sitting at the same table with the president of the atheist club, discussing the meaning of the cross.
All this to say, give thanks in all circumstances. The struggles are real, but His goodness is so much more.
*References: 1)Ephesians 5:20 2)Colossians 4:2 3)Philippians 4:6
Kelsey is a second year intern with Cru campus ministry in Boston, working mainly at MIT. This year she will be trailblazing a new internship in the northeast called Freedom58, a partnership between Cru and International Justice Mission, to bring Biblical Justice into Christian conversation at universities.