For the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. -2 Corinthians 9:12
Dear members and friends,
We have a tendency to use words and expressions, which are familiar to us, without fully knowing exactly what they mean. For instance, the term “thanksgiving.” There is a rich historical reference to what makes the American Thanksgiving special. However, the very term itself is a combination of the words “thanks” and “giving.” One way of understanding the term “thanksgiving” is that you are thankful, so you are willing to give something back (to God). The word thankful is defined as “expressing gratitude and relief.” And, the word gratitude is defined as “appreciative of benefits received.” Benefit has a number of definitions, but the most commonly used one is “something that produces good or helpful results or effects or that promotes well-being.” If I may combine this chain of definitions, to be thankful could mean that you would like to express your appreciation because you have received something that was actually good or helpful to you. Here, the focus is that receiving something good or helpful comes before the willingness to express appreciation. In other words, our mind needs to feel and acknowledge the experiential benefit in order for it to be thankful. Thus, the perceptibility of our minds is crucially important to acknowledge and accept the ever-present blessings of God in our lives, which would inspire our mind to enter the state of being thankful to God.
What the Bible teaches persistently is the fact that humans fail to acknowledge and accept the unceasing presence of God within their lives simply because they refuse or are unable to perceive the way in which God is present. In other words, humans have been asking God to be present in a way that they want rather than the way God actually is present. Thus, in the Bible there is a clear contrast between how God teaches humans to live and how humans request God to bless them. God teaches humans to live through love, mercy and caring for each other, while humans request power, control and prosperity over others. For all human history, God has been asking humans to seek a way to be spiritual, while humans have been asking God to bless them with materialistic rewards.
My friends and family in God, I invite you warmly to reflect upon this question: what blessings have you been asking from God? And, if you feel that you have been blessed by God, please acknowledge it deeply, and be thankful in your heart. Then, be willing to express your thankfulness by giving something back to your God.
With blessings and thankfulness,
Rev. Junchol Lee