2020—The year people joke about, cry about, post derogatory memes about, and say they can’t wait ‘til it’s over. As though things magically change when the year does. As though it was this year’s fault the pandemic, protests, planetary disasters, and political-polemics happened.
And now one of my favorite holidays is coming up tomorrow–
Thanksgiving—a holiday that’s really meant to be a lifestyle and ongoing attitude! Many feel like it’s a denial of reality and hardships to celebrate life and Thanksgiving this year. Yet you and I know better. We know we need this holiday and reminder of thanks-living even more, to counteract all the fallout from the hardships!
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you…” 1 Thes. 5:18
Note—it says “IN”, not “FOR” all circumstances. Circumstances in and of themselves can be good or bad—it’s how we respond and what we do and learn from them that makes the difference!
Ok—so what can we give thanks for this year?
1. Good relationships— the people we’ll miss getting together with for Thanksgiving holiday because of Covid, distance, etc. The ones we’re sad about not seeing for way too long. But why be thankful for that?
Because it means we have someone to miss and someone that misses us—which means we have love in our lives!
Like Paul, we can say, “I thank God for you, every time I remember you.” Phil. 1:3.
Plus, we can be thankful for the means to communicate we have now in 2020 that we didn’t have 50 or even 20 years ago—Zoom, Face-Time, WhatsApp, Skype, etc., that allows us to video-chat with each other!
As for the people it IS possible to see—especially those we live with—hopefully we’re thankful for them. If not, write to me and let’s talk!
But what if we don’t have any good relationships? Be thankful we have the means and choices to either develop or restore such relationships. Start now!
2. Our relationship with the LORD Himself— He hasn’t left us. He never will.
“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Heb. 13:5; Deut. 31:6
And He never changes, so the same good and sovereign Lord we gave (or need to give) our lives to still has perfect love, wisdom, power, and all the character traits He’s always had and always will have. Whether in the midst of prosperity or pandemic, we can count on Him to take care of us. He’s not like people, who change and then disappoint us.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Heb. 13:8
3. Opportunities to serve people– We don’t have to look far to find them: Sending encouraging cards, emails, texts, etc.; Cooking and bringing meals to those who need them; Giving our time to call and/or video-chat with lonely, isolated, people—who may be ourselves, but then we’ll be less lonely and isolated because we called!; Doing yardwork for an elderly or ill neighbor/friend/church-member; Helping a co-worker or classmate with something they’re having a hard time with; Volunteering wherever we’re needed and able to help; Showing practical kindness to the homeless—food, clothing, shelter. Add to the list. As Jesus said—
“Whatever you’ve done for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you’ve done for Me.” Mat. 25:40
4. Ways we’ve grown and things we’ve learned— This year has made all of us expand our comfort zones, as we’ve had to develop and learn new ways of doing everyday life and work. This, along with enduring hardship, has facilitated growth in character and maturity in us, the same way exercise develops and tones our muscles.
“Consider it pure joy… whenever you face trials of many kinds, because… the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
Just think of the spiritual and emotional “weight machine” this year has been for us! 🙂
5. What we DO have—I don’t want to assume anything here, but if you’ve had a meal today, something to wear, a place to live, safe drinking water, and the means to read this blog post, you have more than many others in this world have. Plus whatever else you have.
Start now. First, let the Holy Spirit fill in the specifics on what to give thanks for this year. Second, share these general thanks listed here to encourage others we know, so they can fill in their specifics.
For Thanksgiving, let’s share and swap our thanks even more often than we pass the turkey!
Written by: Julie Tofilon