November 2013:

'Think' and 'Thank'

May the grace, peace and joy of our Lord be with you.

November is the month of Thanksgiving. It is the time to remember and reflect upon God’s grace poured out upon us. It is the time to thank God for blessings given to us throughout the year. It is the time to rejoice and celebrate the joyful season of Thanksgiving.

Someone said, “Christian ethics is an ethics of thanksgiving.” I fully agree with this statement. Our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ are built upon God’s amazing grace revealed in Jesus Christ. The holy life we are called to live is an expression of our thankfulness for God’s love. If we lose this gratitude, the reason and foundation of holy living, our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ will be a burden, not a joy. If we lose the heart of thanksgiving, our ministry will be just a duty, and there will be no joy. The Christian life without thanksgiving will easily fall into legalism. This is not a life our Lord wants us to live. This is not a life living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This past Oct. 4 was the 46th anniversary of my lung surgery which I underwent in 1967. Because of bleeding, I stayed in the operating room for about 28 hours and received massive transfusions of blood. I wandered between life and death and offered my last prayer to the Lord when I was conscious for a while. Whenever I remember what God did in that difficult situation, I cannot but give thanks to God.

Since then, I started counting my age in a new way. The 46 years of my life since then have been an additional gift from God. So now I am 46 years old! Thanks be to God!

On the week of the anniversary of my operation I made a phone call to the surgeon who performed my surgery that day. He has retired from practice and is living in Morganton, N.C. We shared memories together and had a good conversation.

Each day when I enter the United Methodist Center or drive to visit churches, I remember what Paul said: “By the grace of God I am what I am (I Cor. 15:10).” I am deeply humbled and grateful for the opportunity to serve this conference. I am fully aware of where I was, and where I am now. Because of this remembrance of God’s grace, I still do my ministry with joy and gratitude, although there are issues and difficult situations. If I lose this joy and gratitude, my ministry will face serious challenges.

There is a one letter difference between the words “Think” and “Thank.” I think “Think” and “Thank” are closely related. If we think deep, we will be able to thank. Thinking deep will help us to see the situation from a different perspective.

There was a pastor who always began his worship services with the prayer: “Gracious God, we thank you for this beautiful day.” One Sunday the weather was terribly bad, and only a few people came to the worship service. They were curious whether the pastor would give thanks to God for the weather that day. The pastor prayed: “Gracious God, we thank you that we rarely have this kind of bad weather.”

If we think deep, we can give thanks to God in any circumstance. We can have a different perspective on our situation as the pastor prayed. Even in a very difficult situation, we can find God’s presence and give thanks to God. This is a real blessing. If our heart is filled with gratitude to God and to the people around us, we will have a happy life and joyful ministry. Where there is a thankful heart, there is joy and peace.

But unfortunately, our lives today are too busy to think deep. There is no time to think deep. There is no room to enjoy the gifts of God around us. As Richard Foster says, superficiality is the curse of our age. We look for instant satisfaction and expect an instant response. In this season of thanksgiving we need to slow down. We need to open our hearts and minds to God and to the people around us and to rediscover the thankful heart within us.

Please think deep and thank God!

May this month be filled with deep gratitude to God and to one another.

In our Lord,
Young Jin Cho

 

 

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