Summary: But yet, without those things which cause us to be thankful, here is Paul, thanking God. Maybe we can learn something from him. For what was Paul thankful? (Powerpoint Available - #188)
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
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ILL. In 1923 a terrible earthquake hit Japan. The Literary Digest declared, “History knows no disaster which parallels the earthquake & fire that visited Japan this month & laid waste its capitol city & the chief seaport.” (Sept., 1923)
Virtually every building in Yokohama was destroyed. Three-fourths of Tokyo was burned & the entire city with 5 million inhabitants was shattered by the earthquake.
The New York Times reported that the area of devastation covered 45,000 square miles, & included 5 major cities with a population of over 7 million. The New York Tribune called the earthquake ”undoubtedly the greatest disaster in recorded time.”
A joint survey by Herbert Hoover & the Red Cross estimated nearly 300,000 had died, & 2 1/2 million people were homeless. In the face of such an over-whelming catastrophe, despair gripped the entire island nation.
And it seemed certain that many of those who had survived the awful tremors, the gigantic tsunami, & the terrible fires would end up dying from starvation or disease. But they didn’t.
Why? Because help came – help from America for a devastated Japan! Food, clothing, medical supplies, & volunteer workers came by the shiploads. At a time when the dollar was worth a whole lot more than it is now, the American Red Cross collected $10,000,000 from the people of the United States to aid the suffering & homeless of Japan.
The Japanese people were amazed & grateful for our generosity. They even put their appreciation into writing. Walter Kiernan, correspondent for the International News Service, recalled their very words: “Japan will never forget!”
But Japan did forget! Just 18 years later, American aid & American ships of mercy were all forgotten as, on Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese planes, in an act of ultimate treachery, brought death & destruction to our nation, forcing us into a terrible world war for our own survival.
But the Japanese aren’t the only ones guilty of forgetting past mercies. In Jeremiah 2:32 God Himself cried out, “Does a maiden forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number.”
And again, in Jeremiah 3:21, “…they have perverted their ways & have forgotten the Lord their God.”
Now in my earlier years as a preacher I would have been inclined at this point to point out how much we as a nation have forgotten God. We have received His blessings, & then ignored Him. And that is still tragically true!
The terrible events of 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, the San Bernardino shootings, the Orlando nightclub massacre, the targeting of police officers, irrational mobs rioting in the streets, smashing & burning - all this & much, much more, proclaim the pervasive presence of hatred in our nation.