By Heather Walton
This has been the worst year ever! COVID. Civil Unrest. Economic Collapse. Isolation. Shortages. Uncertainty. How can I be thankful?
Let’s remember that that the Apostle Paul admonished us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Paul had been through many tough things, including persecution, imprisonment, beatings, loss of friendship, anguish over the trials of the church, shipwreck, hunger, nakedness, and more.
It’s interesting that this admonition came in the midst of Paul’s teaching about the Day of the Lord. Prior to this verse about thanksgiving, Paul shared with the Thessalonian church that they were not to worry about those who had died missing the Lord’s return, and not to worry that those on the earth would miss it either. He also told them not to worry about when this would happen; instead, he focused them on how to live in the meantime.
He urged them to have self-control, to show brotherly love, to mind their own business, to encourage one another, to work, and to abstain from evil. He encouraged them to be at peace, to pray, to rejoice and give thanks. He told them not to quench the Spirit or to despise prophecies. His message was one of hope, peace, and unity.
And all of it came from the heart of a man who, by our standards of peace and safety, had a rough life. Not just a rough year. Decades of difficulty.
This man admonished us to live out our faith by being thankful in all circumstances. No exceptions.
This year has been challenging for everyone. Nobody has been exempt from the effects of the worldwide crises taking place in 2020, and it’s highly probable that 2021 will bring surprises and hardships of its own. Yet I am thankful.
I’m thankful for all the “good” things, of course — things like God, family, friends, shelter, food, and meaningful work. But it goes deeper than that this year.
I’m thankful for a lot of things I previously took for granted — things like toilet paper and gatherings with friends. But it goes deeper than that this year.
I’m thankful for the ability to creatively do things I used to do differently — things like teaching and tutoring online, grocery delivery, and curbside pickup. But it goes deeper than that this year.
I’m thankful for the hard things, the bad things, the irritating things:
- I’m thankful for the lockdown that brought my family home full-time and gave us time together that we never would have had otherwise, that taught us that we really don’t need nearly as much outside our four walls as we had thought.
- I’m thankful for our tyrannical governor, who has shown me how precious our freedoms are and given us a chance to realize that liberty is worth fighting for, that it is precious and should not be taken lightly.
- I’m thankful that Joe Biden appears to have won the election, because perhaps now evangelicals will take their eyes off a perceived political “savior” and turn their eyes on the one-and-only true Messiah.
- I’m thankful for the refining of the church, in which the true believers will come through stronger, and those who were just playing church are faced with making their faith real or simply walking away. This crisis has clarified allegiances and values.
- I’m thankful for the remnant community I’ve been united with in brotherly love, and I’m looking forward to what the Lord is going to do through this group of believers.
- I’m thankful that I’ve been drawn to search the Scriptures much more fervently, looking to see when the Lord may return, and how to live in the meantime.
- I’m thankful for a greater awareness of the socialistic, humanistic assault on God-given liberty and the understanding of the demonic forces behind it.
- I’m thankful that the uncertainty and unrest has made me much less attached to this world and increasingly aware of my heavenly citizenship.
Today we remember a group of Pilgrims and a group of Native Americans who came together, though they had many differences, and gave thanks to God for the simple provision of food, which allowed them to live just a little longer. May we be thankful for the simple things as well. May we be thankful for the good things, the things previously taken for granted, the ability to creatively do things differently, and yes, even the hard, bad, and irritating things.
Happy Thanksgiving 2020 to all!