We are all tired of hearing about how difficult 2020 has been. I know that has been a reoccurring theme in many articles, videos, podcasts, or what have you. But I would be remiss if I let Thanksgiving go by without reflecting on being thankful during such a strange year.
We have experienced seemingly unheard of things in our country in 2020. We have been told to stay home for months on end. We have seen civil unrest in the wake of the tragic taking of lives. We have seen chaos break out as uncertainty settled in. We have seen businesses shut down, paychecks cut, and jobs lost. We have seen a political divide unlike any before ripping our country in two in a way it seems impossible to repair. How are we supposed to be thankful in these circumstances?
The Bible is not unclear on the topic of thankfulness. Nearly every book in the Scriptures has something to say on the matter, and it is nearly always in the form of an exhortation or a command.
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:34).
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful…And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:15, 17).
“Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2).
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Christians, we don’t have a choice here. The Word of God that we say we believe is giving us an unmistakable command. “In EVERYTHING give thanks.”
In the pandemic give thanks. Because of the shutdowns, many parents were able to be home with their children. While the world seemed to be crumbling into darkness, many families were together who would have otherwise been apart. Fathers and mothers were able to disciple their children and build relationships. Marriages grew stronger. Sons who rarely saw their dad now had a father present to teach them how to be men. Daughters were able to be closer to their mothers and learn what it is to be a woman. These are things that will have an incredible effect on our nation long after the lockdowns stop, and we can be truly thankful for it.
In the election give thanks. As I’m writing this article, the country still doesn’t agree on who will be the president for the next four years. However, this uncertainty should give us even more reason to be thankful, because it reminds us of the absolute certainty of the kingship of Jesus Christ. Our fallen world may be in rebellion against His throne, but even the dark ranks of the demons know that He is the Authority over all things. As the opinions from both sides of the political spectrum fly overhead like bullets, we Christians can stand confidently and unafraid of the outcome. Yes, pray. Yes, be active and let your voice be heard in these important civil matters. But do not be fearful. Be thankful that you have a King that no one can vote out of office.
This isn’t foolish optimism. This is scriptural honesty. Our God is in control of everything. The year 2020 played out exactly as He planned, and whatever happens, next year will happen according to His will. He is not a cruel, malicious god like the pagans of old worshipped. He is a loving Father, a kind Shepherd, and a merciful King.
Christian, this Thanksgiving holiday take the words of Paul to heart:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).