Is that even possible? Can someone truly be thankful for a year filled with so much turmoil, uncertainty, and restrictions? There have been ugly political battles, racial tension, and overwhelming disagreement on how to handle Covid. How can you have thanksgiving amid these days of upheaval?
Paul writes in Ephesians 5:20 “…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NIV 2011) Christians are people who give thanks for everything. That means even 2020 has contained reasons for us to be grateful.
I put together a shortlist of the reasons I am thankful for 2020.
- This year taught me the value of community. This year I have connected to people in the Church I lead at a level I have never experienced. First, I missed being with fellow believers. Then I felt frustrated by some of the decisions and conflict. Finally, I opened my heart and life to those who decided to stick together through this year. The result is that I have felt closer to people, shared more, opened up to others about my joys along with frustrations, and now I have a community who stands beside me.
- This year has taught me the value of technology (and its shortcomings). I, like everyone, have been blessed that the internet, social media, live streaming, and digital communication could help the Church survive this time. It also made me see the limitations and the need we all have for real human connection.
- This year has taught me the value of every day and hour. When the future is uncertain, you learn to appreciate today. Each worship program, football game, fellowship meal, youth group, and connection time feels like it could be the last for a while. We might have to social distance or spend time in quarantine, or even shut down any day now. This forces me to enjoy the moments the Lord is giving me. Knowing that sickness could come and be fatal at any time forces you to give thanks for every day you have with someone you love.
These were the three biggest reasons I am grateful for in 2020. This is not a complete list as I could spend time writing about personal changes and growth, the Core52 journey, the upgrades at the Church building, the people willing to continue giving, and my new friends in ministry. Even while the funny memes keep coming out about how bad the year 2020 has been, I still have dozens of reasons to be thankful. I pray that for the next few days, you will quiet the sounds of struggle in your mind and sing out a song of praise for all God has done, even in such a strange year.