By Laura Krone

Hardly an hour goes by when we are not asked for something. The requests range from food and clothing to cell phones and bicycles. We try to help where we can, but often granting the request seems counterproductive to sustainable ministry in the community. 

One of the most difficult aspects comes when you give what was asked and it results in complaints and arguments. Often the clothing or watch or water bottle is not what the person was hoping for, or someone else sees what was given and asks, “Where’s mine?”

The other day in the market two street boys came up to the vehicle asking for money: one hand held out begging and the other hand clutching a used soda bottle with glue for huffing. One of the boys recited one of the few English phrases he knew, “You give me 1 pound. I am very hungry.” Whenever I go to the market I’ve gotten in the habit of buying extra bread for just such occasions, and so I handed them a couple pieces. At this point, I’ve also grown accustomed to people getting upset with me for giving them food instead of money, but this time the boy gave me a thumbs-up with a huge grin on his face and said “thank you.” 

And even though I know God calls us to give not expecting anything in return, it reminded me just how powerful gratitude can be. In an environment where it’s easy to get burned out with the constant requests, the smile and simple “thank you” was a breath of fresh air that softened my jaded heart.

It also reminded me of the times I fail to acknowledge answers to prayer or even offer complaints instead of gratitude for the good things God provides. I now read passages like Numbers 21 with great conviction, thinking of my own grumblings about the frequency with which we eat rice and beans. 

In spite of the difficulties of living in South Sudan and the temptation to focus on the discomforts, I believe the Lord wants to cultivate in me a spirit of gratitude. Not only does God deserve thanks for all that he has done for me, but it is also for my joy. Even in the difficult times, he has challenged me to view thanksgiving as an act of faith, trusting his good purposes for all that he allows.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”