FLUSHING, New York - Faith Bible Church held a Thanksgiving service at their main church in Flushing, gathering all of their church members from the different congregations. The speaker delivered a message titled “Not Forgetting”, leading the participants to deeply reflect on the meaning of Thanksgiving and to become Christians who are grateful to God.
Thanksgiving is joyful, but for many people it is difficult to be happy; they complain that because of the financial storm their companies collapsed or they were fired by their employer, or they would live day to day fearing that they will be fired as well. Towards these kinds of people, it is very difficult to give thanks on Thanksgiving.
“However, we should be more thankful because of these sufferings”, he said, “Thanksgiving is not blessings upon blessings, but it is walking in pains. Giving thanks to God in pain is the essence of commemorating Thanksgiving.”
He said that most of the people knows about Thanksgiving holiday but are unclear of the meaning behind it, so they naturally won’t give thanks in all circumstances. Before hearing the laughter during Thanksgiving, there were countless sufferings. Then, he led the crowd to think about to three centuries ago and began explaining the origin of this holiday.
In September 1620, in search of a land where they can worship God freely, a group of Puritans boarded the Mayflower, leaving behind their home land to pursue their dreams despite the difficulties that lies ahead of them. They crossed the Atlantic Ocean and finally arrived at the Plymouth Harbor in Massachusetts. It was then winter time.
With the arrival of snow fall and serious lacking of food and equipment, the pilgrims suffered immensely. During that winter, many of them became sick and almost every day there were someone who passed away. Their dreams seem to have become a nightmare.
He said that through the grace of God Indians came to help them survive. When it was harvest time in the following year, they’ve invited the Indians to come to the church to offer up gratitude to God and then to hold a three-day celebration of thanksgiving. Ever since that time, it has been a tradition to celebrate Thanksgiving every year.
These groups of Puritans were the foundation setters of United States. They established a biblically based America. Their first faith of gratitude is worthy of today’s believers to model after.
Then, from looking at Deuteronomy 8, he led the crowd to reflect deeply on the meaning of Thanksgiving. In that passage, God punished his people for forgetting the unforgettable. Looking at the history of the Israelites, it seems that it is always bitter at first but sweet at last, which is also the life experience of Christians.
Everyone wants to enjoy being blessed, but it is just a dream. Our lives cannot be separated from sufferings. God sometimes will allow suffering to happen to his sons and daughters. We can see that suffering isn’t without any benefits, because it can bring out the quality and essence of your life, allowing your life to develop.
Furthermore, he said that when we suffer we can also experience God’s teaching, allowing his words to deeply enter our hearts, so that we can witness his amazing power; through suffering, we can also see God’s love for us.
After experiencing suffering, we often will receive wonderful blessings. Yet, often time people forget to give thanks and become corrupted in wealth and finally forsake God. Addressing this point, the minister warned the attendants that God can give and he can also take away, so do not forget to thank God when you become wealthy
Even a person’s talent will make one become conceited and forget God’s grace. He said that success cannot be separated from diligence, but don’t forget that the source of strength to earn riches are given to you by God. All the sources of strength and abilities come from God.
Therefore, when you are rich don’t forget to thank God, and when you are in suffering you should thank God more.
[Editor's note: reporter Quan Wei from New York contributed to this report.]