Atlantic Caribbean Union

Thank God It Is Over!

It is possible that the above caption depicts the feelings of some persons. And understandably so, as the year has been most challenging and distressing owing to a degree of joblessness; possibly the highest level of violent crime in our nation's history; extensive road works that inconvenienced numerous businesses and citizens in general; high fuel price that drove up the cost of goods and services.
Quite frankly I can go on and on adding, but it will do no good to remind you, for I think I have made the point of what I wanted to communicate. The year 2011 has been perplexing! I can imagine that you would rather forget it sooner than later, and therefore the above caption. For this very reason I have chosen to focus on some positive things that will hopefully spark a sense of gratitude that will likely elevate the thoughts above the sea of “what happened” and “what should have happened.” Let’s see what we can be grateful for, notwithstanding some of the ills.

Grateful for Life
Where do I begin? How about my starting with gratitude for life? You may not be feeling well, but you have life which is a precious commodity not to be taken for granted. Local statistics will show that hundreds died in the Bahamas during 2011. Somehow God has seen fit to spare you, and that suggests purpose. Undoubtedly, He has a plan for your life and as such I would encourage you to pray until you discover it and fulfill it.

Grateful for a New Year
Aren’t you thankful that 2012 is just days away? New Year’s Eve marks the end of 2011 and the beginning of the new. Not just a new year but one with new possibilities and opportunities. With Christ in the picture, “All things are possible.” Likewise, with Christ not involved, one cannot hope for too much. So I encourage you to embrace the opportunity to start again changing and improving some things that you failed to do in 2011. Take it one day at a time and adopt the Apostle Paul’s approach of dying daily to self and living a life of usefulness unto God.

Grateful for Family and Friends
What about friends and family? If you are objective enough, you have to admit that you did not evolve or fall out of the skies. Instead a loving God, through the medium of your parents, has fearfully and wonderfully made you! Notwithstanding that they may be dead, or have abandoned you, or are even reluctant to own you, you can at least be thankful that they were responsible for your birth. However, there must be some relative and /or friend/s that regard you. How do I know? It is highly unlikely that no one cares. There must be a friend and for that you may wish to express appreciation for this fact. And just in case you need another, the Hymnologist says, “I have a Friend so precious, so very dear to me, He loves me with such tender love, He loves so faithfully.”

Grateful for the Bahamas
What about the Bahamas? As a frequent traveler, I have been many places, far and near, and the more I travel the more I thank God for home - the Bahamas. Despite its share of problems, it is still a beautiful place with favorable weather, rich resources and wonderful people. If you are inclined to doubt me, ask yourself why so many visitors come here yearly in excess of five million? Why are there so many winter residents? Are they seeing what you are failing to see? Or has familiarity led you to take for granted your heritage? Thank God for the Bahamas!

Grateful for My Last Meal
What about your last meal? Yes, some may say there was none. But was that really so? Chances are if you are reading this article, you have probably opted to skip that meal. I am not unmindful that many have lost jobs or experienced reduction in income. What I am saying is that putting “things” into perspective allows one to see that he is not as bad as he may think. In parts of the world it is quite possible that persons will die of starvation before I finish writing or you finish reading. What some Bahamians call poverty might be an adjustment of sort. Nevertheless, you can be grateful for what you have.

Grateful for God
Man’s greatest Friend and blessing is God! Unfortunately not all recognize that fact. In failing to realize God’s love leads some to think of themselves as less than important and meaningless. On the other hand, it is also possible to perceive one’s self as too important. However, an abiding relationship to God enables one to have a balance and positive view of himself. Instead of seeing just gloom, he sees possibilities. Instead of just a stagnant economy or unpromising signs, he sees a way out, for he has learned to live by faith and not sight; faith in the promises of God and not based on current trends and conditions, for God possess the power to supersede all. Put succinctly by the Apostle Paul, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

My dear brothers and sisters, I encourage you to remember that God is with us and through Him and by Him we face every situation. Have a God-filled New Year!

Pastor Leonard A. Johnson
President, Atlantic Caribbean Union of Seventh-day Adventists