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.
I am convinced that if we ever needed God, it is now.
With that in mind, let's consider what Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 1:3-11. By the way, I usually read from the New International Version of the Bible. But this morning I want to use a Modern English translation by J.B. Phillips because I believe that it will be a little bit easier to understand.
In vs. 3 & beginning vs. 4 of the Phillips Modern English Version, Paul writes, “Thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is our Father & the source of all mercy & comfort. For He gives us comfort in our trials…”
Now remember that word, “trials,” & listen to vs. 8 where Paul says, “We should like you, our brothers, to know something of what we went through in Asia. At that time we were completely overwhelmed, the burden was more than we could bear, in fact we told ourselves that this was the end.”
When we gather together we often give thanks to God for our families, that we have food to eat, a roof over our heads, clothing to wear, & freedom to enjoy it all. In short, we thank God for all the circumstances that make life so pleasant.
But the apostle Paul had few of these blessings. Instead, he endured trials, persecution, & suffering. Problems were overwhelming. Burdens were more than they could bear. In fact, he was convinced that he could be killed at any time.
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?
I. GOD, I THANK YOU FOR WHO YOU ARE
A. Paul begins his 2nd letter to the Corinthians with thanksgiving - “God, I thank You for Who You are – the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, & our Father, too.”