二○一八十年十二月八日／十二月九日 Click here for English version
Wrap up the Year with Thanksgiving
Rev Hung Kwai Fong
Every year at the New Year's Eve thanksgiving and testimonies prayer meeting, we hear many encouraging accounts of God's work: sicknesses healed, broken relationships mended, family members converted to Christ after years of prayer…. Some brothers and sisters might think they do not have any dramatic experiences to relate or to give thanks for. But at the testimony sharing meeting when they have the opportunity to jot down and share with believers sitting next to them blessings from God, they find plenty of blessings to count, even to the point that they could not finish. If we are prepared to be attentive, we will invariably find the grace of God in different aspects of our lives. It is unfortunate that we often fail to give ourselves a break from our busyness to quietly reflect, and let time go by.
A sister said that in the past, she spoke from head knowledge when she thanked God for the gift of life. But ever since she had a serious sickness, she had really been able to give thanks from the bottom of her heart – she spoke from experience. She really understood that being able to breathe and get out of bed was not a matter that could be taken for granted. A brother had his throat scorched as he underwent treatment for his nasopharyngeal cancer. For some time, he felt as though he was swallowing broken glass when he drank water. He had to keep a cup of water handy even after recovery. To him, it was grace to be able to take a gulp of water smoothly. We often take grace for granted, or think that it is what God owes us. At the slightest frustration, we complain and doubt, grumbling like kids, or even deny God's love altogether. But we have not brought anything to this world. Whatever we have is grace, given to us at no cost. God so loved us that He gave His only begotten Son. Will He withhold any good things from us? Or is God a torture maniac who enjoys seeing us saddened in hardship and despair? While hardships and adversities are a result of sin and the fall of man, they can also be used by God to mold our character and train our faith. If only we will willingly look back at our past, it will not be difficult to trace the graceful hand of God guiding and keeping us all along. Although we may not feel God’s presence and may think that we have been abandoned, we will find in the end that during the toughest times, God has been carrying us through just like He does in the story "Two sets of footprints."
The psalmist says, "Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits" (Psalm 103:2). So does Paul exhort believers to "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). There are indeed many blessings in life, big and small, that we can count. We are forgetful, and we do not make the effort to write them down. That is why we fail to recognize God's presence and work in our daily life.
The year 2018 will finish in less than a month. Before we step into the new year, it is worth spending time and finding room to look back at the past year for the footprints of God in our lives. Let us properly wind up the year's account, and with thanksgiving and faith, move towards the challenges and more abundant grace of God in the new year.
"Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High" (Psalm 50:14).