The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word thrive as, “to grow vigorously,” “to gain in wealth or possessions,” or “to progress toward or realise a goal despite or because of circumstances.” This definition encapsulates the essence of what it means to thrive: not just to survive, but to flourish, prosper, and succeed regardless of the challenges faced.

After God created man, He blessed them with a profound mandate: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Genesis 1:28). This blessing was an invitation to thrive, to exercise dominion, and to steward the earth. God’s plan from the beginning was for humanity to thrive by growing, multiplying, and establishing authority over all creation.

In addition to this dominion, God provided everything necessary for man's sustenance and thriving. “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food” (Genesis 1:29). This provision ensured that man lacked nothing and could thrive without struggle or want.

Adam and Eve enjoyed a season of thriving in the Garden of Eden, living in perfect harmony with God and creation. However, their disobedience and fall under the deception of the devil introduced a tragic shift. By disobeying God, they lost the ability to thrive effortlessly. Their expulsion from Eden symbolised a transition from thriving to mere survival, from abundance to toil.

Thankfully, the story of humanity did not end in perpetual struggle. God’s redemptive plan aimed to restore mankind from a state of survival back to thriving. This plan culminated in the sending of His only Son, Jesus Christ, whose mission was to save mankind and restore the ability to thrive. Jesus articulated this purpose clearly: “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10, NLT). This rich and satisfying life is not characterised merely by material abundance, but by spiritual fulfilment and alignment with God’s will.

Thriving, in the scriptural sense, goes beyond the accumulation of possessions and riches. It encompasses a life enriched by the things of God. The latter part of Merriam-Webster's definition, “realise a goal despite or because of circumstances,” reflects the apostle Paul’s sentiments. Paul wrote, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:10-12). Paul’s focus on knowing Christ and sharing in His sufferings illustrates a deeper understanding of thriving, one that is rooted in spiritual growth and eternal perspective.

As a young Christian, I faced considerable opposition. The concept of being ‘born again’ was alien even to many regular churchgoers. Born again Christians were often seen as peculiar and were frequently subjected to ridicule and mistreatment. Despite this, some of the most profound testimonies from that period came from those who once opposed me. They eventually acknowledged the consistency in my faith and actions, often coming back to apologise. One such person remarked, “There was just something consistent about you; no matter what was done to you, you just kept doing what you do.” This consistency was a testament to God’s work in my life, enabling me to thrive despite adverse circumstances.

Often, we make excuses for not thriving. We might think, “If only I had enough money,” or “If only I had a better job, I could serve God better.” However, looking back, I can confidently say this is not true. If we cannot serve God faithfully with little, it becomes increasingly difficult to serve Him with much. Thriving in God is about walking in the authority restored to us through Christ. 

We were not made merely to survive; we were made to thrive. Thriving involves recognising and embracing the authority given to us, growing in our relationship with God, and fulfilling the purpose He has set before us. It means flourishing in our spiritual walk, regardless of external circumstances, and living a life that reflects God's glory and purpose. Through Christ, we have been restored to a state of thriving, empowered to live abundantly and victoriously.