Pastor Austen Ukachi
(Message delivered during a Thanksgiving Service at Badore Centre of He’s Alive Chapel, LAGOS).
Key Passage: “Thank God in everything, no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks, for this is the will of God for you who are in Christ Jesus, the Revealer and Mediator of that will” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP).
“If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small” (Proverbs.24:10).
The NKJV of 1 Thessalonians 5:18, reads thus: “In everything gives thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” What an appropriate theme for us in this season of thanksgiving, and at a time we are faced with the seemingly tragic situation of the death of our dear sister, Pastor Titi Aleke. From the human point, it may seem tragic that at a time when we ought to be celebrating the goodness of God to us this year, we are confronted with the death of someone so dear to us. In reality, it is difficult to celebrate and mourn at the same time. But the choice before us is either to have a thanksgiving service or a mourning service. We have chosen to thank God and not mourn, over the death of our dear mother and sister, Titi Aleke. Death is an enemy, a killer of joy and a destroyer of aspirations and dreams. But our sorrow notwithstanding, we have chosen the path of thanksgiving because as the scripture says, “All things work together for good…(Romans 8:28)” Beside, like JESUS said about Lazarus, our sister Titi is merely sleeping (John 11:11). We believe that she would rise up on resurrection day.
Therefore, the implications of 1 Thessalonians 5:18, for us as a Church are as follows:
We have to give thanks to God whether in life and in death. Even with the death of our sister, Titi we have to thank and praise God because she has gone to be with the Lord in glory.
Despite the reality before us, we have to thank God whether in sorrow or in joy; whether in laughter or in crying. We have to thank God whether it is favourable to us or not; when it is convenient or when it is convenient, we are to thank God.
NOTHING HAPPENS WITHOUT HIS KNOWLEDGE
The Psalmist says, “God is not unmindful of the death of his children” (Psalm 116:15). Please read this passage from the NLT edition of the Bible;
“The Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die. God shares in our sorrow at this moment“
We must understand that nothing, absolutely nothing, can happen to a child of God without God’s knowledge and approval (Isaiah 43:1-2; Isaiah 46:3; Isaiah 54:17).
THE POSSIBLE QUESTION
The possible question that may be in some hearts is this: where is God in all these? Where is God with the death of our dear sister, and the other deaths we have experienced in the Badore Centre in recent years? My response to this question is this: there is nothing we are going through now in HAC or in BADORE God does not know about. He knows our pain, our tribulation, our fears, our sorrow, etc. JESUS said to the Church at Smyrna, the persecuted Church thus: “I know thy works and tribulation”… (Revelations 2:9)” God knows and sees all our travail.
As a church, the Badore Centre has had its fair share of trials and tribulation. Like PAUL said in 2 Corinthians 7:5-6, you have been troubled and attacked from every side, from within and from without. But one thing is certain, God is able to comfort us in every situation or tribulation (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). If there is ever a time when we need to summon courage in the face of adversity, it is now. Proverbs 24:10 reads, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” We make bold to say that our strength is not small, because the Spirit of God who dwells in us is greater than our adversity.
In James 1:2-4, the Bible says, “Count it all joy when you fall into trials and various trials….” It takes a lot of courage to thank God in times of trials and difficulty. This was what Paul and Silas did in Acts 16 when they were thrown into prison. This was also what Meshack, Shedrack and Abednego did when they found themselves in the furnace of fire. I believe, that by God grace, we can turn a most difficult situation around with praise and thanksgiving. Doing that requires courage and supernatural strength.
TRIALS REVEAL WHO WE ARE
Trials reveal our true character; trials reveal who we are. Trials reveal whether we are candy-loving, miracle-chasing Christians or genuine disciples of Christ who are willing to follow and serve him at all cost. Do we follow and serve God joyfully no matter the cost or do we follow and serve God only when things are good?
As CHRISTIANS, we must rediscover the mystery of death. We must learn to see death NOT as a tragedy but as a promotion to eternity. We must see death as a gain rather than as a loss. Heart breaking as death may be, for the Christian it is a rest, it is a transition into the presence of the Lord.
TURNING ADVERSITY TO BLESSINGS
As I conclude, let me relate the situation on hand to the theme of this thanksgiving Service which is, “The Lord God of Berachah.” Incidentally, this Centre is called, The Berachah Centre. As you know “Berachah” means blessing. Berachah was the place where God turned the challenges of King Jehoshaphat and Israel into a blessing. Berachah was meant to be a place of humiliation, shame and defeat, but God turned it to a place of victory, joy and thanksgiving. Thus, Berachah is a place of turnaround. It is a place where adversity is turned around into blessings; a place where weeping is turned into joy; a place where fear is turned into courage; a place where sadness is turned into thanksgiving. Let us, therefore, arise in our minds and turn our mourning into joy, our ashes into beauty and the spirit of heaviness into a garment of praise.