Thanksgiving

At in-gathering offerings and celebrations, we give thanks to God for bountiful harvests and joyfully celebrate as a family and congregation the successful completion of another season.

Though their first winter in the New World was hard, tough and difficult, the Pilgrims and many early settlers took the spring to learn from Native American Indians how to cultivate their new lands and adapt to their new home.

The peace pact between the settlers and the natives gave a peaceful atmosphere that colored their first in-gathering celebrations in the fall of 1621, and thus the first American Thanksgiving.

In 1881, great-grandfather Jonathan was described as “the foremost Christian gentleman” in his town by the great historian Rev. Johnson.

Grandfather Emmanuel left his wealth and immense connections, prepared a trust and care for his family, and went on Christian evangelistic campaigns. He died in the course of these missionary works, and was buried within the courtyards of one of the churches he helped to set up.  His family thrived and remained in Christianity.

Dad and Mum were Roman Catholics, and so were we.  We later learn to become Christians through personal conviction. No one get saved or converted into Christianity by virtue of religious background or lineage but through personal encounter with Jesus Christ.  It is a greater thanksgiving being in Christ.

In our clime, it is a great challenge to be born and bred in a city and country where corruption is rife, but great blessing to have parents who imbibed in us good manners, upright characters and noble attitudes. Money does not fetch such traits, and it makes you stand out in the midst of many dishonest circumstances and situations without being tainted by their dishonest dainties and gains of corruption.

To have caring tutors, wonderful schools, and a very rich education is not just a coincidence, but the privilege of a good life. What tremendous privilege and uncommon opportunity to share and mingle with different people from various parts of the world, most of whom one could confidently call friends. Korion came from Armenia, Barn is from Lebanon, Newborn is an American, Phillips is from Trinidad and Tobago, Murray is a Canadian, Tabingo is from the Philippines, Bacha came from Ethiopia, Takeo is Japanese, Burgess is English, Emilio is Argentine, Gramkow is German, Luigi is Italian, Zekry is from Egypt, Sonig is from Syria, and so on. I sincerely thank God for each of them.

Not much of a swimmer, I made for the beach in company of about ten other friends, good swimmers. I stayed at the brooks, playing in the shallow part of the waters while my friends were catching fun in the deep.  Before I knew it, I was caught off-guard, the sand before my feet just gave way, and I realized that I was sinking deeper into the water. I felt a sort of magnetic force pulling me deep down into the water.

At a point I shouted the name of JESUS right inside me! Immediately, a force pushed me up out of the water, but not ashore. As my head got out of the water, I remember shouting, or rather yelling atop my voice, HE! HE! HELP!!! My friends sprang forth to rescue me, drained so much beach water from my belly, and nursed me back to full recovery. If you ever have a second chance to live, as I do, you should give thanks to God, the giver of life.

Having the basic essential things of life is worth thanking God for. A lovely spouse, loving children, adoring octogenarian mother, caring sisters and concerned brothers, good friends, and respectable colleagues, a home ‘built firm upon The Savior’, regular good food, a sound mind, a good spirit, and a fit body are great pointers to longevity, and heritage of The Lord.

Thanksgiving is a golden opportunity to remember that life has been so good, and God has been so caring despite daunting challenges, difficult moments, and unpalatable circumstances.

As a Graduate Assistant at the Lebanese American University to Professor Robert Polhill, the famous American Professor of Accounting who was kidnapped in Beirut in January 1987, I thought it was all over after his capture. Some terrorists mistook me for another American because of my special relationship with Professor Polhill and his wife, Ferial Seikley. Polhill was very fond of me as a lecturer, boss, friend and counselor. Nevertheless, I graduated in fine colors, and Professor Polhill was released in April 1990 after 39 months in captivity. What a thanksgiving memento. Surely, Jesus answers prayers.

Denied, due to nepotism, after almost clinching a Federal government appointment in 1990, but as the scourges of nepotism can never break a tough guy, I learn to move on, and do better in other areas. It is great thanking God as you go to Him in solitude, shedding the penitential tear, claiming all His promises and assurances, as you plead where no one else, except God can hear.

As a project manager, I travel a lot, either in the airplane, on the roads, and on the waters. There had been times when an airplane that I missed to board would have been  in some terrible situations; or occasions when I narrowly missed or escaped a road accident, not by being smart or magical, but rather because The Lord of the ways always send His angels ahead to clear the way for His children. What a great privilege to thank Jesus.

I may not be rich or wealthy, but Jesus makes a great difference in my life, and in the lives of my family.  What great joy to have parents who are conscious of heaven, siblings who are saved and sanctified, and children who choose to live by “thus says The Lord”. Do you take time to thank God for your Mum, sharing with your brothers, sisters, children and almost everybody that “Others may, but I can not.”

Business thrives, and sometimes investment fails to yield expected returns. There is always hope while we live. A recent Federal Government promulgation on cement favored the mighty at the cost of the new entrants into the sector. Thousands of employees and families were suddenly thrown out of job and livelihood.  Nevertheless, we survive the struggle despite loss of investment, capital, business, and income. Give thanks you were sacked, fired or hindered while on the right. It always create opportunities for greater prospects.

On this day of Thanksgiving remember that God’s only Son came to change your gloom to brightness. He has come on wounded feet to roll out your ailment and smooth your scattered sick-bed. He enters your life with spike-pierced hands to sooth your pain with His balm and washes away your grief and discomfort with undefiled living waters. Jesus is knocking the door of your heart to come in and breathe His words of faith into your gentle ears that “fear and anxiety, grief and gloom could not live where He is.”

Does Jesus care when my way is dark

With a nameless dread and fear?

As the daylight fades into deep night shades,

Does He care enough to be near?

O yes, He cares, I know He cares!

His heart is touched with my grief;

When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,

I know my Savior cares.

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