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感恩節剛過去，有人說今年的慶祝規模大不如前，同時在嚴重的新冠肺炎疫情下，還有甚麼可以感恩的呢？帖撒羅尼迦前書五 18 教導我們要「凡事謝恩，因為這是神在基督耶穌裡向你們所定的旨意」。無論甚麼環境、甚麼事情都要感恩，這實在是不可思議的吩咐，順境時感恩沒有難度，但困境時謝恩卻需要刻意操練的，我們在其中除了要細察上主豐富的恩典外，也要從新的角度去看遭遇，從而更深體會「萬事都互相效力，叫愛神的人得益處，就是按祂旨意被召的人」（羅八 28）。
Grace is Everywhere
Rev Hung Kwai Fong
Thanksgiving came and went without much celebration, unlike in the past, as some suggest. For what can we give thanks during the severe pandemic? Here is what the Bible says, in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” That is, whatever the circumstances – whatever happens – give thanks. It is undoubtedly a most difficult command to understand. While it is easy to give thanks in good times, it takes a conscious effort to practice giving thanks in difficulties. We need to notice carefully God’s abundant grace and look at things from a different perspective. It is then that we can understand more deeply the biblical teaching “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
We have learned from childhood we need to plan ahead and make preparation for everything. But then comes the pandemic, and the plans of many are disrupted. Travels, visits or studies abroad, short-term mission trips and the like are postponed or canceled. Even weddings are rescheduled time and again. All this is frustrating. It seems everything is beyond our control. We are forced to face our limitations and insignificance. We therefore come to know that it is not we, but God the Creator of everything, who is in control. We need to humble ourselves and admit our powerlessness. We learn to depend on God and entrust things with Him, and let our plans be fulfilled according to His will. “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” (James 4:15)
Not being able to travel allows us to better learn how to enjoy the beautiful scenery, the people and everything else in Hong Kong. We have more time to get close to God so our mind and body can rest. We can also take the opportunity to reconnect with old friends. And although we cannot travel together, we can resume our ties. We can also spend the holidays exploring new things, cultivating new hobbies.
During the pandemic, fellowship and small group meetings have to be suspended. At first, many seniors and adult brothers and sisters dismissed the idea of meeting online as difficult and unfeasible. They looked forward to the pandemic disappearing soon. But it took a long time for in-person meetings to resume, and brothers and sisters had no choice but to overcome their reluctance to go online. When they could successfully communicate with group and fellowship members, many were overjoyed and grateful. For them, it was a breakthrough to continue to take part in fellowships/small groups online. They can even participate in other online meetings and courses in addition to worshiping through online broadcast. Isn’t that something to be thankful for?
The year 2020 is truly extraordinary. Before it comes to a close, let us review our experience and thoughts, and identify the hand of the Lord and His blessings. Let us give thanks for all of this, to the glory of God.
“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2).