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True Blessing of Lunar New Year

7 February 2022

“新年快乐,万事如意!” “Happy New Year and may all go well with you!”

I was brought up in a traditional Chinese family steeped in all its superstitions and traditions. In my youth, I remember that my father forbade us to throw away anything (that includes trash and leftover food) from our home for the first 7 days of the lunar new year, for fear of throwing away the “good fortune”. We were also told never to turn off the lights in our rooms during that period so that the God of fortune would be able to “see us” and thus visit our home to bless us with wealth.

My brother and I would also stay up all night playing games on the eve of Lunar New Year as my father believes that the longer the children stay up, the longer the parents’ life would be. The next day, my brother and I would seek to outdo each other with Chinese New Year blessings as we greet our parents with the mandarin oranges “新年快乐,万事如意! 马到成功, 生意兴隆, 年年有余!” And in exchange, we would receive our big fat Ang Bao that is the resulting success of our perseverance.

Fortune, success and longevity have been the center and pursuit of many Chinese families. And this worldview is heightened especially during the Chinese New Year season. We all have the desire for fortune, success and longevity. We want to be blessed by God. But is a blessed life one that is full of wealth, success and longevity?

If someone were to possess all of these, are they truly blessed by God? Perhaps they would feel self-sufficient and proud. They might start to feel that they are reaping the fruits of their labors. They won’t feel the need to turn to God for help because they don’t need it. They won’t feel the need to trust God because they can trust themselves.

Earthly blessings can be taken away in a heartbeat. I experienced that most recently. And yet, in the midst of this painful event, I experienced God’s most wonderful blessing. A deeper faith than what I had. A rawer love than what I could have imagined. My suffering has caused my faith to branch in ways that fortune and success never could.

Tribulations are not blessings in themselves, but they are catalysts for them. Last year, we covered Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount during our SBC classes and we saw in Matthew Chapter 5 countless renditions of “Blessed are…” statements. None of which connects to material wealth or health. Instead the blessings are connected through suffering by being joined by faith to Jesus Christ. Blessings are anything in which God gives that makes us satisfied solely in Him. Blessings are anything which draws us closer to Jesus Christ. Blessings are anything that causes us to release our hold on the world and hold on to the Holy Spirit.

And it's often in the struggles, pain, suffering, that best enables us to do that. Pain and suffering change us… while they might test us to our uttermost limits, they can also push us to a deeper love for God, a deeper faith in Jesus, a deeper rest in the Spirit. It’s not about what we can do for Him. And it’s not about what He can do for us.

Fortune, success and longevity are great and wonderful gifts that God may choose to give to some of us. But they are not the greatest gift. God’s greatest gift is Himself. And He gave Himself through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ.

That’s the blessing that we all need to have.

“新年蒙恩,万事如主!” “Blessed New Year and may all go according to God’s Will!”

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