Jackson Lin: Thanksgiving

My Dear PCS Family,

As we approach this Thanksgiving, I would like to share a few words of encouragement with you.

As I revisit the events of last year, I believe you and I may, unfortunately, feel the same way that the past two years have been difficult, and there may be nothing much to be thankful for. Maybe we can be thankful for our family and friendship, yet I have seen family and friendship divide during this confusing and divisive time. Moreover, we might see even more divides and fights over this week’s Thanksgiving table talk.

Therefore, I would like to encourage us as the Apostle Paul has encouraged us in I Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Even though time has been hard and relationships have been strained, let us come to the table with a joyful heart, not a happy heart, pretending everything is all fine and good, but a joyful heart that has deeply thought through and pondered through the rich graces of God. We can at least be thinking and thankful about the common grace of God and the special grace of God.

1. Common Grace of God

Common Grace is often the miracles that happen daily, yet we often take them for granted. If we are too broken and too exhausted to pick up a cheerful heart, then let’s begin by just looking to the little providence of God. Take a deep breath, the breath of another day God has given you. Go out and feel the breeze of wind on your skin and the warm sunshine beating down on your face. Taste and see God’s goodness from the table of nature he has sustained for his glory. From then, we can begin to be thankful for the many simple things in the past year. I would encourage you that before you are about to debate or argue at your Thanksgiving table, go around and just share one thing that you are thankful for. It can be as simple as “the sun.” It can be as sweet as “my dog.” If you even want to be political, sure! Say, “the government,” but say it with a thankful reason. Yes, many of us are not happy about the government and the system in this country today, but at least we still have a government and a stable society, which many places in the world are envious of. “Give thanks in all circumstances!” Your thanksgiving does not have to be difficult and long like the turkey you prepared. Just lay back and enjoy the common grace of God.

2. Special Grace of God

God’s Special Grace is the most expensive grace of God, yet we treat it cheaply. Let us, in this Thanksgiving, exalt this grace, the grace that he has revealed his salvation to us through the preservation of his holy word. We can be thankful that before we were even born, God loved us so much that he came and paid an awful price for our sin so that we may have ultimate joy and eternal life. We can stand before the world and proudly claim that we are sons and daughters of God because of the righteousness of Christ imputed(covered) to us. Moreover, we know that God continues to walk with us and sanctify us through the work of the Holy Spirit in his Word, so that we may one day assuredly receive our glory in the renewed heaven and earth with our God and Savior. I encourage you to start pondering this beautiful and expensive good news before you approach your Thanksgiving meal. Eat, share, and engage with joy because you have found (or I pray you will) joy and comfort in the love of Christ!

Now, as I mentioned before, I want us to have a joyful heart, not a happy heart of pretending everything is all fine and good. To many of us, not everything is fine and good. To many of us, unfortunately, reuniting with family can be one of the most painful things we experience. As you have surveyed through the common and special grace of God, trust that your God hears your cry. Show your thankfulness by honestly confessing to him your weakness, your pain, and your need for help. Ask him to give you joy and a heart of love as you eat and share with your family. Ask him to forgive you when conflict arises. I pray that his mercy will begin to heal all wounds during this Thanksgiving.

May your hunger be filled with turkey and gravy and may your heart be filled with the profound joy in Christ.

You servant and brother in Christ,

Chaplain Jackson Lin