The Rev. Dr. Terrance Gattis is the associate director of corporate partner operations in the Resource Development department of Habitat for Humanity International. He is also is the pastor of Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Stockbridge, Georgia. Read his Advent reflection below.
The year was 2000 when a little book became a big international bestseller: The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson. The book expounds on a brief prayer tucked away in a genealogy, a prayer that was prayed by a little-known man by the name of Jabez.
What’s interesting about this prayer is that Jabez was calling upon God to help him accomplish what God had already promised to the descendants of Abraham. In short, Jabez was standing on the promises of God. His expectation of expansion was not based on who he was, but rather on who God is and what God had promised.
In truth, the prayer of Jabez can be a source of encouragement and hope for all of us. Without question, this has been a rough year for families who partner with Habitat for Humanity, for our affiliates and for our ministry (especially internationally). Many are still struggling with the sickness, stress and sorrow that COVID-19 has caused. But the good news is that our God does awesome and miraculous things during rough times. As a matter of fact, it’s going to be during these rough times that God is going to enlarge our territory and bless us to serve more families in some new ways!
As believers who’ve been entrusted to carry out the mission of serving families, it is crucially important that we never forget who God is. God is the creator and sustainer of the Earth. God is a provider and a bridge over troubled waters. God is love. And our God is also a promise keeper. Jabez understood this aspect of God’s character, and he prayed by faith that God would enlarge his territory because that’s what God had promised. And according to the story, “God granted his request.”
So, as we celebrate this Advent season, let us look forward with expectation. Let us not surrender to despair or let the rough season that we’ve been through cast doubt of the great future that awaits us. God is with us, which is why, like Jabez, we can pray with confidence: “Oh, that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory.”
Gracious and loving God, we thank You for another opportunity to come before You in prayer. We thank You for Your love, for Your goodness and mercy toward us, and for the many ways that You have blessed this ministry called Habitat. And as we celebrate during this Advent season, we pray that You will pour out Your Spirit upon us afresh. Bless us to anchor our faith and hope in who You are, and as we look forward with expectation to the great things that You have for us, help us to stand firm on Your promises. We offer this prayer in the name of Your son and our saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.