This may be the most unusual Thanksgiving season you’ve experienced. After a year of difficult changes that have affected everyone around the globe, it may be harder than ever to truly be grateful. But with God’s help, we can choose gratitude during Thanksgiving 2020.
A Year of Loss
This year has been a year of losses for many. Lost loved ones, jobs, and health. Lost opportunities to gather, celebrate, and worship. Loss of traditions, belief in institutions, and trust.
God knows our losses. He has been close to you when you suffered, whether you felt it or not. He collected every one of your tears in 2020 (Psalm 56:8) because you are precious to him.
But it is His will for you to give thanks in all circumstances, even the ones that are unusual and difficult.
Why is giving thanks God’s will for you? This directive in 1 Thessalonians 5 is part of a list of traits for Christian living. Paul writes that as Christians, we are to be sanctified (set apart and made holy) for God’s glory.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV
Taking Time to be Thankful
When we act in ways that are contrary to the world, relying on the Holy Spirit to empower us, we demonstrate that we are different from everyone else. Our gratitude in 2020 can speak volumes to the unbelieving world. It can be your most powerful way to witness this Thanksgiving.
Take a few minutes to reflect on the losses you experienced this year, no matter how small. What did they teach you about God? About yourself? About the way God wants you to live? Can you find a reason to be thankful, despite the difficulty you faced?
I can look back on several losses I experienced this year and see the grain of goodness in them. Here are a few examples.
- Celebrating Easter with only my family of five helped me appreciate my mother-in-law’s hosting of family events even more than usual.
- Not attending church in person for six months helped me gain a new appreciation for corporate worship.
- Seeing my children thrive as they returned to school helped me hold them more loosely than I was before.
I genuinely have more gratitude in these areas than I did before quarantine life. It has sharpened my focus on being grateful despite the inconvenience and loss we experienced. I’ve learned that I truly can be thankful in all circumstances, even the difficult ones.
Gratitude in a Difficult Season
You can choose gratitude in this difficult season too. Invite the Lord into your reflection time. Ask him to help you see areas where you have been stretched for his glory. Name the reasons you are thankful for what you learned in 2020, in spite of all the difficulties.
And be sure to tell someone what you’re thankful for. You just may inspire someone to learn more about Jesus this Thanksgiving, due to your gratitude.