Thanksgiving Day: A Moment to Count Our Blessings

Every year Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the second Monday of October. This has been a tradition since 1957 and is linked to the harvest festivals of the European. Last year, I got a chance to eat turkeys and pumpkin pies, however this year I missed both; I had beef steak and apple pies, instead. Not bad 🙂

The event on Thanksgiving Day has passed, but its spirit should always be with us throughout the years. Believe that thankfulness is an efficacious medicine to greediness as we live in an age of constant dissatisfaction, where human tend to take anything for granted. Remember, no matter what happens to you, always rejoice and be thankful.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)

In this moment, I want to challenge you to write down, as many as possible, the things you are thankful for, no matter big or small, either over the past few days, weeks, months, years, or even the course of your life. You might be surprised that the list can go on and on, beyond what you could ever think of.

Alright, without further ado, let me go first with my thanksgiving list over the past year here. (This list is arranged randomly and the order does not necessarily reflect the level of importance)

  1. Thank God for healthy body and mind of mine and my loved ones. I’m grateful for the five senses that still function well.
  2. Thank God for my study and research work in which I could earn knowledge, experience, and also… stipend and scholarships 😀
  3. Thank God for all people who’ve been kindly supporting me. I’m thankful for my parents, professors, pastors, and all friends in school and church.
  4. Thank God for giving me the opportunity to learn cooking for my daily meals. Also, I’m thankful for all the foods and drinks, either the free or the purchased ones, for my breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  5. Thank God for all the physical or material blessings, such as clothes to wear and electronic devices to use everyday.
  6. Thank God for nice weather and beautiful views in Vancouver.
  7. Thank God for protecting my journey on the roads everyday. I’m thankful that since I don’t yet have a car, no expenses for gasoline or parking fees are required. Public transits are, thankfully, quite convenient here.
  8. Thank God for giving me a place to stay with such a warm-hearted family. I’m thankful for enough rest and proper sleep every night.
  9. Thank God for bringing me to the places I’ve never been before, both inside and outside Canada. In the end of last year, especially, I got a chance to visit my uncle’s family in Los Angeles.
  10. Thank God for my marriage! I’m so much thankful for a beautiful wife, bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. I can never thank our parents enough for all their love and supports, especially with respect to the engagement and wedding preparation.
  11. Thank God for the honeymoon time. We had a summer vacation for 12 days in France and Italy. I’m grateful for the successful arrangements, from the visa application to the itinerary schedule.
  12. Thank God for the long distance relationship with my girlfriend-turned-out-to-be-wife. During this season, we have been learning about the values of faith, trust, endurance, patience, and many other important lessons.
  13. Thank God for the recent approval for my wife’s visa application to Canada, which means that our LDR will come to an end soon.
  14. Thank God for the new place ready prior to my wife’s coming.
  15. Thank God for the information technology and social media which have been very helpful in facilitating communication with my loved ones. I’m grateful for all the smart and intelligent people who have worked “behind the scenes”.
  16. Thank God for giving me new ideas that I can continuously share my stories through this blog. I’m so grateful for the gift of writing.
  17. Thank God for showing me the books I need to read and all the valuable articles from internet which have been very useful source of my inspiration.
  18. Thank God for enabling me, under the supervision of my professors, to publish the fourth scientific paper in the reputable journal, in addition to our previous three articles. I’m thankful for all the citations.
  19. Thank God for people who’ve been praying for me and my family, in addition to those who’ve been inspiring me through their life experiences.
  20. Thank God for my siblings as well as spiritual brothers and sisters, who’ve been a great source of my encouragement.
  21. Thank God for people who dislike me because of my personality, views, beliefs, or even fortunes. I’m thankful that because of them I’ve been more motivated to be a better person everyday.
  22. Thank God for the inspiring public figures, from whom I can learn so many great lessons. I’m grateful for the modesty of President Joko Widodo, the audacity of the former Governor of Jakarta Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the life testimonies of Nabeel Qureshi, and the brilliance of David Wood.
  23. Thank God for the wisdom to my parents-in-law, who have given me valuable advice necessary for my personal and spiritual growth.
  24. Thank God for the faith and labors of my parents, which I believe, would be the most precious legacy for us in the days to come.
  25. Thank God for the patience of my wife. Love is patient, and yes she loves me! Indescribable gratitude for the love of my life.
  26. Thank God for all the troubles and difficult circumstances I’ve faced, which have been turned into the opportunities for developing my characters.
  27. Thank God for forgiving my sins through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
  28. Thank God for the assurance of hope, peace, and joy in the midst of worldly tribulations.
  29. Thank God for the gracious gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ our Savior.
  30. Thank God for this 30 years of life and for making me realize that life is not about me. I’m very much thankful for Jesus Christ and his revelation. Let everything that has a “NAME” realize that life is “Not About ME”. Life will one day be history and yes, it’s HIS story, all about the ONE whose name is above every name.

Alright guys, that’s it!

The above list can go further but there’ll be no enough space to write down everything here. I guess yours will be the same too. Thus, you may also want to make a list based on the numbers of years you’ve been living for.

OK, now is your turn to count your blessings!

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Nabeel Qureshi: A Hero of Faith in the Present Age

In summer 2014, I was in Seoul working in a laboratory while doing my final project (thesis). My interest in apologetics, in addition to research interest in clean energy, has grown ever since, leading me to do another “research” about Christianity and Islam. During those times, I often spent times watching series of testimonies on YouTube. One of the most fascinating figures I found was Nabeel Qureshi, a former Muslim Christian apologist, who has now become the world’s most prominent figure with respect to the Christian versus Islamic worldview. Believe it or not? (Try to use the words “a former Muslim Christian apologist” in Google and you will be directed to Nabeel’s profile in Wikipedia on the first page)

Since he was diagnosed with stomach cancer on August 2016, I regularly watched his vlog on YouTube, wondering about the progress of his health. Hundreds, or perhaps thousands of people all over the world have been actively praying for him and his family since then (especially for his healing). However, the Lord seemingly has another plan. September 16, 2017 was the end of his life on earth yet the beginning of his life in the eternal and glorious home with the Lord Jesus, the true love of his soul.

I don’t know Nabeel personally, but his ministry has been a tremendous impact for me. I have read two of his books, Seeking Allah Finding Jesus and Answering Jihad, which, I believe, would be valuable resources for any truth seeker. As we live in the age of internet and information technology, we all know that finding the true and accurate information is easier now than it has ever been. For those of you who are interested in seeking the truth about God from the perspective of Christian in comparison to Islam, I would suggest you another great resources, which have been carefully worked by Nabeel’s best friend, David Wood.

Here, I would like to share with you, at least, but not limited to, three spiritual blessings I received from Nabeel’s life and ministry, together with the references from the Scripture.

1. Death is not the end of human existence

Some people might have been wondering about the reason of Nabeel’s death. There would certainly be a lot of speculation on this matter. To me, the most unsurprising one would be due to his conversion from his former faith, as if his death was a God’s punishment. (It is quite understandable that people tend to find the “cause-effect” relationship, trying to rationalize everything that matters. But, I believe that we can’t, and don’t have to, explain and have the answer for everything). To this type of reasoning, I would ask, “What if God actually loved Nabeel so much that He was willing to bring him back to Him forever in the heavenly home?”.

As long as our concern is merely about earthly life and the worldly pleasures, we might think that Nabeel’s short life was quite unfortunate. (Had he lived longer, he could taste more delicious food, visit more beautiful places, and do more enjoyable activities). However, I believe death is not the end of our existence and the ultimate joy is not meant for our temporary-and-fragile life here. If they were so, how pitiful are the morally good people who died at the early ages, innocent children or kids who were killed in a war or accident or natural disasters, people who were dead by injustice and crimes, etc. Should they all have died in vain and lived meaninglessly? How can we explain all these things?

What if death is just the beginning of our eternal life? What if the separation from our mortal body leads to the unification of our soul and spirit with the brand-new immortal body? What if the beauty of life and all the wonderful-yet-perishable things here on earth is just nothing compared to the eternally wonderful things the Lord has prepared for us on the other side? What if death means “rest in peace” while life means “restless in pain”? What if death is not a curse, but a blessing? What if death is good, not evil? If death is evil, why would a good Creator allow it to be the inevitable part in the life of all creatures? And if death is good, like Paul says in Philippians 1:21, why would you still have a fear of death? Indeed, death can be good or bad, depending on where (heaven or hell) and with whom (the loved ones or the enemies) you will spend the eternity. I believe, just as Nabeel does, the gift of everlasting life has been given to those who believe in, and therefore have been saved by, Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord. Because of his faith in Jesus, Nabeel fears neither death nor evil.

So, could it be the time to change our mindset and how we perceive the matters of life and death? Could it be the right moment to focus on what matters most, i.e. the unseen things with eternal values (such as faith, hope, and love) beyond the seen things (such as the worldly riches, fame, and fleshly pleasures) which are momentary?

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!” (Revelation 14:13, NLT)

2. The sovereignty of God over all things

There are so many things we don’t know and many stories we can’t understand in life. Have you ever seen the wicked people outlived the good people? Have you been familiar with the corrupted leaders who are getting richer while the innocent people are living in poverty? Life often seems so frustrating and unfair that we might consider escaping the reality (read: suicide) as the better solution. Is there really a true measure of success while we live in this broken world? We are all clueless, without definite answers.

Had Nabeel lived longer, imagine how many memorable moments he could make with his wife (Michelle) and daughter (Ayah), how many more inspiring books he could write, and how much greater impact he could have. Again, God’s will is not like ours. Our spirit, soul, and body belong to Him, He gives and could take away anytime He wants. Now we can see why we should always leave a room for the God’s mystery in our theology. It is God’s privilege, in all His majesty and wonders, to conceal a matter (Proverbs 25:2).

At the end of the day, we can only trust that His plans are far better than ours and He is still good no matter what. By this way, our faith in Him will get stronger and we will always have hope in life. The just shall live by faith and surrendering our life to God is the most relieving feeling and the most rewarding moment we could ever experience. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Sovereign Lord;  abide in Him all times, and find our total confidence in Christ alone.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT)

3. Faithfulness of God’s servant, even to the point of death

Regardless of what our job title is, we all have one specific role in life: to serve. I believe that we are all servants towards others. I’ve shared about this in my previous post last year. Whether you are a custodian, a teacher, or even a president, you have the same responsibilities of doing a good service for others.

Now, have you seen any person willing to die for what he/she believes? I am asking to myself, “Are you willing to die for your Chemical Engineering knowledge?” and probably you could also ask yourselves, “Am I willing to die for what I am doing and I believe now?” Some people were born with such incredible gifts or talents to become, for example, the world-class singers, the world-renowned musicians, the world’s greatest football players, etc. You may be wondering if they are also willing to die for their passions. Have you found the truth (or the love of your life) that is worth dying for?

Here we can see the distinguished life of Nabeel. Just like Paul, he has considered everything else is worthless when compared with the surpassing worth of knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8). Nabeel has been willing to die for knowing Christ and proclaiming His truth despite the struggles with his dearly beloved parents, in addition to the challenges from people who had mocked him blatantly. He knew that life on earth is temporal and things are perishable. He is not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and what He has done for him. Heaven is a far better place where he can be forever with the Father in the everlasting peace, love, and joy. I wonder if the Lord has said to Nabeel, “Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of your Master!”

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants. (Psalm 116:15, NIV)

In the following video you can see Nabeel’s statement of faith and hope in eternal life. Hope you will be tremendously blessed!

First draft written by September 18, 2017 and finalized by October 6, 2017 in Vancouver