“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
In a couple of days, I will be celebrating my 50th birthday. As I reflect on my life and all that I have been through, I cannot help being thankful.
My life has passed through many phases. Born in a North London hospital, loved and cared for by parents who had hopes, dreams and desires of what they would want this little baby to become. Life was good and when time came for my parents to relocate to Nigeria, I was eager, especially since I had never met my older siblings who were living with family in Nigeria.
A lot has happened between then and now. I went through all kinds of hardship I never knew I could endure. Today, I can tell a hungry person, “I understand what you are going through” because I lived through periods in my life where I did not know where the next meal was going to come from.
I can say the same to a homeless person because I suffered homelessness for a period. I know what it means to wear the same clothes over and over again because I had no change of clothes. I remember learning how to mend shoes so that I could mend the only pair of shoes I had.
In all these things however, I had a dream and the dream was not wishful thinking. It was a desire to rise above all the things that threatened to swallow me up and prevent me from being what God had called me to be. I drew inspiration from the experiences of Biblical characters like Joseph and Jabez. People who rose above their limitations and came into the fullness of God's calling for their lives.
Things did not start changing overnight. God took me one step at a time. Sometimes I had to take one step backward to take two steps forward but progress was being made nevertheless. For every step forward, I gave thanks to God.
I remember earning a low income while financing my University education. It was tough going but God was with me and sent people to encourage me especially at those times when I felt I could not go on. Some of those people came into my life for a season and God used them in great ways to bless and encourage me and afterwards I never saw them again.
While this was going on, I began to immerse myself in scripture and loved to share my thoughts with friends. Then the internet emerged. I saw the opportunity to share with friends who were not close to me through email. My contact list continue to grow as the internet became widespread and more and more people asked that I add them to my list. This was how Biblepraise Fellowship Online was born. The aim was and still is to encourage people using my experiences as a reference point.
When it was time for me to get married, God worked it out in ways that still amaze me today. All I knew was that it was time and I trusted God for everything, including my wife and the wedding. God came through for me in every aspect for which I am thankful.
When it was time for me to return to the UK with my family. Once again, I knew where to go and as usual God came through for me. I remember the day I waved goodbye to my family at the airport. I was leaving the known for the unknown, the certain for the uncertain. By this time, I had a fairly decent job and some of my friends could not fathom why I would take the risk especially when I was already in my 40s.
This time, I drew encouragement from Abraham. His own case was even worse than mine, He did not know where he was going, at least I knew where I was headed, I just didn't know what to expect and how things would unfold.
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8)
God showed me that I was on the right path. It didn't take long for me to get a job, settle in and bring my family over. Life for me is a lot different than it was a decade ago. Two years ago, my family and I travelled on holiday for the first time. It was a memorable experience. It made me remember the times I volunteered to drive friends and family to the airport when going on holidays and as I wave goodbye or welcome them back from their travels, I would pray, “Lord, as I have driven this person to the airport on holiday, one day, I will be given the same treatment”. I have since experienced the answer to that prayer, over and over again.
There are a lot of experiences that time or space will not allow me to share but one thing is certain, I have every reason to be thankful. I am far from being a rich person but God has blessed me far beyond my expectations.
My journey through life has not been a series of coincidences. It has been a journey marked out precisely to take me where I am today and the journey has not ended yet. There are still a few my mountains to climb and a few more valleys to traverse but when I look back and see how far God has brought me, it gives me the courage to move on to God's ultimate plan for me.
This is the reason I am thankful.
“I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart, I will declare all your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1)
Steve Popoola is the editor of Biblepraise Newsletter and the founder of the Biblepraise Fellowship Online at http://www.biblepraise.org. He lives in Kent, United Kingdom, where he works as an IT Professional. He currently serves as a Worship Leader as well as Home Group Leader in his local church and on occasion, speaks at invited events. He is the founder of the Biblepraise Fellowship Online Ministry and Moderator/Editor of the Biblepraise Newsletter. He can be reached through His email address, firstname.lastname@example.org