By Cheng Hang, United States
Thanksgiving Day means giving thanks to God for the blessing of the harvest. In September 1620, there were 102 persecuted Puritans from England in the ship named “Mayflower” sailing across the seas to Americas. Because of exposure, tiredness and infectious diseases, there were only about 50 people left. When desperate, they learned fishing, hunting, farming and feeding turkey from Indians. Even better, with favorable weather conditions all year, they had a bumper harvest. For the sake of giving thanks for God’s blessings, they invited the Indians to celebrate this red-letter day. From then on, this custom continues down to the present day. In 1863, the president of the United States, Lincoln proclaimed the Thanksgiving to be a national holiday.
For the first time, I know the origin of Thanksgiving Day. Seeing the hard and rough journey of the Puritan, I completely understand why they celebrated together for three days to thank God when they had a good harvest. It reminds me that not only the Puritan should thank God, but all of us should give thanks to God. Not only should we thank God on the Thanksgiving Day, but we should be grateful to God in everything.
However, often times, we think what we own are gained by our hard work. We ignore the grace of God, and thus we do not feel grateful to God. Sometimes, we enjoy the abundant things bestowed by God, however, we think all of these are matters of course, never counting God’s grace. Often, we give thanks to God for our happy family, conjugal happiness, smooth career, promotion or being rich. And there are many times that we thank God for His keeping us from disaster. … From these we can see our gratitude to God is based on benefit. We thank God because we have gained profits and our desires have been satisfied. Let’s think about it from a different perspective: If our family is not happy, if our work doesn’t go well, if there are many setbacks and hardships in our life, will we still give thanks to God?
I have read such a passage of God’s words, “Man’s relationship with God is merely one of naked self-interest. It is the relationship between the receiver and giver of blessings. To put it plainly, it is like the relationship between employee and employer. The employee works only to receive the rewards bestowed by the employer. In a relationship like this, there is no affection, only a deal; there is no loving and being loved, only charity and mercy; there is no understanding, only resignation and deception; there is no intimacy, only a gulf that cannot be bridged.” These words thoroughly reveal the relationship of naked self-interest between God and us. Facing these words, I couldn’t not be convinced. With many intentions to receive blessings, our hearts fill with extravagant demands, and we don’t thank the Lord of creation as a created creature. In fact, we only wish to gain material blessings and ask God for benefits. Seldom do we thank God amid hardships and trials. We know too little of God.
In fact, God’s grace for man is present everywhere, and His love for man is present at all times. God created all things, and determined laws to balance all things, so as to ensure that we have good environments for survival. Regardless of whether or not we believe in the existence of God, whether or not we know Him, actually each of us is enjoying God’s supply, and lives under His sovereignty and control. Not only does God provide us with material needs, but His work done on us can even more bring benefit to our life. Yet it is usually after experiencing the hardships and refinements that we come to realize we have many elements of disobedience within our life, have many thoughts and views not in line with, and many lacks in humanity to be made up for. … But all these things can only be seen clearly, achieve change, and get cleansed after we undergo hardships and sufferings. When we truly understand God’s earnest intentions and taste His true love, we will appreciate that hardships and refinements are even more God’s blessings and worthy of our gratitude for Him. Just like Job, who suddenly lost a mountain of sheep and cattle, lost his sons and daughters, and all of his property overnight, meanwhile, he was also enduring the pains caused by the suppurating sore boils all over his body, and misunderstandings of his wife and his friends. Such situation may seem rather terrible to us. Yet it was through this kind of trial that God perfected Job’s faith, and gave him an opportunity to bear a testimony to God before Satan and the people of the world, thus allowing him to become a truly perfect man, as well as a righteous man in the eyes of God.
I truly felt our gratitude to God by enjoying His grace is so shallow since it’s easy to do for everyone, while the gratitude after being struck by disaster carries a lot of weight, which is something in our life. Our gratitude to God should not be a form of ceremony, nor thanking God in word only. The true gratitude to God is that after we experience the baptism of life, we have true faith in God and knowledge of Him and we can submit to His presence, so that we express our unspeakable praise and worship to Him with our heart. Just like Job, he blessed theeven during the trials, saying, “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). It is based on knowing God is the Master of all things that Job said these words with a grateful heart and attitude.
Thesays, “Rejoice ever more. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Actually, whatever God does is good. No matter what we encounter, even though we don’t know God’s will, we should be obedient with a seeking heart and pray to God without ceasing to grasp His will. After experiencing these matters, when we understand God’s heart and know whatever He does is for us to gain benefit, we will have true thanks to God!