A Note on Thankfulness in 2020

Shambly. That’s how I would describe my emotional state these last few weeks. Every day feels like a roller coaster of high moments followed by low moments. There’s the desire to be surrounded by family and friends and celebrate the holidays, but then there is the realness of COVID and the desire to take care of our communities and one another. It all has left me feeling a little bit unsettled, lonely, and again– shambly.

We are entering into the week of Thanksgiving, and it might be hard to think about what we have to be thankful for this year. For many of us this year has been one of the most challenging where we all have lost something. Maybe you’ve lost a family member, or a job, or a friendship, or a graduation, or simply have lost sleep or memories you were looking forward to make. In a year of such brokenness, such loss; what do we have to be truly thankful for? I don’t know what it might be for you, but below are some of the things I am trying to remain grateful for and that I keep reminding myself of.

  1. The past faithfulness of God: Thankfulness does not have a time limit. We are continually called in the Bible to remembrance: in moment’s of doubt we are to reflect on the past things the Lord has done and to hold fast to the remembrance of his faithfulness. In a year or season where it might be harder to see the immediate blessings, may we look back and remember the Lord’s faithfulness through the ages. He is constant and doesn’t change. His faithfulness does not change. Thankfulness comes from remembrance. (Psalm 42:1-6)
  2. The reminder of Heaven: more than ever, I am ready for eternity. More than ever, we have seen that the world has so little to offer us– it continually fails us. Yet, we hold the hope of the temporariness of this life and the eternal goodness that awaits us. One day we will be in Heaven where there is no injustice, no sorrow, and no pain. May we be thankful for the promise of eternity that await us and keep our eyes heavenward. (2 Peter 3:11-14)
  3. The chance to be broken and grow again: as we all have heard time and time again, suffering produces perseverance, endurance, and hope. It is in the suffering that we grow because not only does it force us to surrender and rely upon the Lord; but it also is a chance to identify with our Christ. The person who has gone through the worst imaginable suffering was Jesus Christ who wrongfully suffered the most brutal death because of his love for us. May we never forget that, and may we be grateful for the chance to be broken and bruised so that we may be mended and grow stronger. (Romans 5:3-5)
  4. The unexpected: we’ve heard so many times that this is an unprecedented time; usually accompanied by all the unexpected negative things of this season. Yet, may we take a moment to remember the unexpected blessings of this year. Maybe it was time to read a book or watch a show you’ve been wanting to watch, maybe it was being able to spend more time in nature then you have in a while, maybe it was sweet time with family or rekindling an old relationship, or maybe it was just the very small moments of being able to recognize all the things we have taken for granted that we will forever cherish– like a hug or a smile from a stranger. (James 1:17)

Thankfulness doesn’t mean pretending everything is good, or not acknowledging the deep suffering and pain of this world. Gratitude doesn’t mean we put on a happy face and ignore the loss we feel and the abnormal times we are living in. However, we have the opportunity to simply sit in this moment and remember the Lord’s faithfulness, long for Heaven, see the opportunity in suffering, and reflect on the unexpected. Gratitude is a choice to hold tight to the Lord, the anchor of our soul, and say “right now, life might not be good– but You are good. Today that is enough.”

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