Now Thank We All Our God
By Rev Tan Eng Boo
I borrowed the title of my article from a hymn composed by Martin Rinkart, a 17th century Lutheran pastor.
Pastor Rinkart wrote this hymn around 1636, during the latter part of the Thirty Years War. This was a brutal war of religion between Roman Catholic and Protestant territories in Europe. As much as a third, or more, of the German population died in the Thirty Years War. In the midst of this war, there was an outbreak of the plague and 1637 was the height of the plague. It is said that the pastor had to perform as many as 50 funerals a day. Historians recorded that he performed 4,000 funerals in 1637, including the burial of his own wife.
In the midst of this suffering, Pastor Rinkart could still pen these words:
Now thank we all our God
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom his world rejoices;
who from our mothers’ arms
has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.
If Pastor Rinkart could give thanks for God’s countless gifts of love, this ought to give us some perspective on our own circumstances and struggles in life. Let us remember that each and every day affords us the opportunity to give thanks to our faithful and loving triune God. We can look around and find many things to be thankful for especially now when we are in the midst of a pandemic.
Joni Eareckson Tada wrote:
“Yes, COVID-19 has shaken the core of this country, but as Henry Ward Beecher said, “We are not the first…who have been on God’s forge. He has had thousands on his anvil before. He knows the infliction of every instrument, and how to temper every blow.” Oh, friend, whatever this upcoming flu season may hold, let us remember the courage and the character of Pastor Martin Rinkart. And like him, may there not be a hint of “woe is me.”” (Joni and friends blog)
One of my favourite Bible passages is found in Psalm 34: 1-3:
“I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!”
Yes, let us exalt His name together.
As we come to the end of 2021, we can look back and say, “If it had not been for the Lord, we would have been overwhelmed by all the trouble we have seen and experienced.” (Read Psalm 124). It is a great blessing to have the Lord by our side always. We can have many people by our side but if we don’t have the Lord, we are in deep trouble. Only the Lord can defend us. Luther’s hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God, means so much to us, precisely because this “world with devils filled,” does “threaten to undo us.” So let’s give thanks for the steadfast love of the Lord which we have seen and experienced in our life in 2021.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases His mercies never come to an end They are new every morning New every morning Great is Thy faithfulness, O Lord Great is Thy faithfulness
A Heart of Thanksgiving
Two days before Chinese New Year this year, I found myself having double vision. It was a troubling experience. I went to see the eye specialist who told me it would take about three months for my vision to be normal. I brought the matter to the Lord in prayer. I told the Lord I had to preach in three weeks’ time and I needed to have normal vision. It was amazing to see the Lord answer my prayer. One week after the prayer, my vision began to improve and I could see improvements every day. By the third week, my vision was normal and I was able to preach on Sunday, 7 March 2021.
We became grandparents in March 2021 with the birth of our granddaughter, Tan En Li, Shiloh. What a joy it is to see this baby growing up. The fruit of the womb is his reward (Ps. 127:3). The Psalmist also says: “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done” (Ps. 78: 2-4). Grandparents have the responsibility to proclaim the glorious deeds of the Lord to their grandchildren. Timothy’s grandmother Lois had a hand in passing down her faith to her grandson (2 Tim. 1:5).
I am thankful to the Lord for His mercies upon my wife, Ser Kim, and I in sparing us from being very ill when we contracted Covid-19 in September. Ser Kim lost her sense of smell for about two months. Other than that, we were alright.
Since last year, 2020, I discovered that I had a mitral valve prolapse problem but praise the Lord it has not been giving me problems. I have been able to sleep well and have my nature walks.
2021 has been a blessed year for me. I continue serving the Lord in church in the role as a Pastor-mentor. I am grateful for the love and care Gracians have shown. It has been a joy to preach God’s Word once a month in church and conduct the Lord’s Supper. Thank God for the strength and stamina to serve the Lord. I am also grateful to the Lord for a new group of Session members who will be leading the church from 2022. I am reminded of what the apostle Paul said: “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Cor. 3:5-7).
May the Lord continue to bless and unite our hearts together to serve the Lord, till Jesus comes. Amen!