Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! Psalm 33:12
Reflection, remembrance and thanksgiving come together.
We will be reminded - again and again - to remember in 2019. Being the bi-centennial year, we will of course be remembering what Stamford Raffles and our colonial leaders have done for our city.
However, it is also valid to say that history is strewn with many unrecognised factors, movers and shakers. Old Singapore already existed before the British came to shore. Surrounded and protected by other lands and islands, it meant that she has a steady and growing existence, almost uninterrupted by natural disasters.
Situated on a busy sea route also meant the merchants from the surrounding region and world were calling to port constantly. With the advent of faster and better ships, the English and Europeans came a calling, transforming our maps forever.
Arabic and Indian merchants left their imprint with the increasing importance of the spice trade.
With the internal wars and rise of Communism in China, this meant that many sought a better life in this island. And highly capable and educated missionaries who could not enter China came to Singapore instead.
Our early political leaders had the foresight to seek for education in developed countries, most of which had values imbued from years of Christian civilisation.
It is a long list of many factors that have shaped Singapore today.
I am coming to my point.
When we say we are thankful, is that a passive reaction almost akin to saying “we are so lucky!”? Or are we thankful because we believe that people and nations have a destiny and that God has both created and called us as such?
In other words, whether reflecting over our personal lives or that of the nation, we are thankful to Someone. As the psalmist extols in Psalm 100:4: Give thanks to Him!
This will be the Christian attitude. While we make attributions to factors that have shaped our nation and our lives, we always recognise the Hand that has moved them. Theologically, we sometimes use this big word “sovereignty of God". Pick up the Bible and read and you will find that this truth underpins every book in her.
I should not forget to add that thanksgiving is also sometimes expressed to our fellow human beings. As St Paul will say in 1 Cor 1:4, "I give thanks to my God always for you…”
As the year ends, take some time to think about the Lord. Take some time to thank those around you. And as you step into the Bi-Centennial year, never forget to give thanks to the One who "causes nations to rise and fall (Job 12:23)."