Chinese New Year: Thanksgiving

When I was young, I would always be filled with anticipation during Chinese New Year. I was excited to meet relatives I have not seen for a long time and look forward to a good time with them. I also looked forward to the delicacies laid on the table and the exhilaration and festivity of firecrackers. Of course, I was excited about receiving more red packets. Presently, I am equally excited about Chinese New Year, except with with mixed feelings. I look forward to getting together with relatives. At the same time, this excitement is mixed with a tinge of regret because we have lost contact with some relatives or, for some reasons, could not meet up. I could only keep them in my thoughts. I hope this year’s New Year will be better than the last. With, however, the challenges ahead, I do feel overwhelmed. I was looking forward to the plethora of dishes. With, however, my deteriorating health, I could not enjoy these dishes. My intent, however, is not to diminish everyone’s excitement about the Chinese New Year. This, however, is life’s reality which, under certain conditions, would cause some to fear celebrating the Chinese New Year.

Life’s unfortunate events would not disappear because of Chinese New Year, nor would life become smooth-sailing because of friends and relatives’ well wishes. However, as a Christian, we can still celebrate Chinese New Year with real joy. First, we feel joyful because God has protected us in the past year. He has been with us from the start to the end of the year so that we could enter the New Year safely. When God led the Israelites to the promised land, He promised to look after them every step of the war. “But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end” (Deuteronomy 11:11-12). Think of the promised land God gave Israel as the wonderful salvation God has given Christians today. When a person believes Jesus as our personal Saviour, we receive this wonderful salvation. Of course, this includes God’s protection from the start to the end! As we reflect on our past year, there were ups and downs, and good times and bad times. However, just as God promised, there were no accidents. He kept us safe through the year. Many thought that God’s protection meant that there would be no difficulties. Thus, when our life meets some set backs, some blame God for not being there for them. But this is not the case. It is precisely because we are in predicaments that we experience God’s care and protection. Just when we thought we reached a dead end, God removed the danger and opened another way out. God’s help is revealed in sudden changes in the environment or in people. It could come by the Bible or words of encouragement or a reminder given by someone beside us. God’s grace is shown when we feel helpless and weak. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). Because God has been so gracious to us in the past year, we can be grateful and joyful as we welcome the Chinese New Year.

As we give thanks for God’s care and protection in the past year, we are even more assured that in the coming new year God will continue to take meticulous care of his children Of course, this does not mean that the new year would not have difficulties and challenges. The news reports destabilising factors which extend into the year 2020. This is on top of a bleak outlook on economic growth, climate changes, and a worsening epidemic, et cetera. Despite this, we can still bravely welcome 2020. “Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land . . . It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him and to hold fast to him— then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you . . . No one will be able to stand against you” (Deut 11:8-25). . God has been faithful and gracious. We must follow him faithfully. In this way, no matter how 2020 develops, we have God’s peace to see us through. Blessed Chinese New Year!