Every year, I discover I have more reasons to be thankful to God than the year before. And it is true this year as well, yes, even during a year filled with chaos.
Our nation and our world have been rocked by a pandemic and unrest unlike any time in modern memory. Yet God has remained faithful to his children. The blessings have looked different this year; but make no mistake, they are there.
I’ve seen neighbors step up to help neighbors, whether that be financially, with child care, or by providing a shoulder to lean on for those struggling with depression.
I’ve seen churches and charitable organizations—though barely able to keep the lights on themselves—go above and beyond their usual ministries to provide meals, shelter, assistance with remote learning, and much more.
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I’ve seen my own extended family deepen our relationships with one another, despite the numerous weeks being physically apart.
I’ve even seen our elected officials on both sides of the isle, in a polarizing election year at that, provide direct assistance to families and small businesses.
Maybe I’m too much of a glass-half-full kind of guy, but from my point of view this season surrounded by crisis has brought out the best in many of those around me. This has proven that God is who he says he is, that he truly cares for his people and that he always makes a stream in the desert.
We ought to direct our thanksgiving heavenward as we remember that all good gifts come from God above. As the psalmist wrote, “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving” (Psalm 95:2)—not only on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of the year.
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In the most general terms, the way to give thanks was actually expanded from the Old Testament to the New.
In the Old Testament, God was normally thanked “for” things—his works, attributes, and blessings (Psalm 106:1). While that focus is maintained in the New Testament, it is expanded to giving thanks “in” all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18). That is, in all circumstances. We can do that because we know God causes “all things to work together for good,” as Paul teaches us in Romans 8.
Why not do both today? Give thanks to God for his blessings and give thanks for whatever circumstances you are experiencing, knowing that he always comes through.
Even in the wild ride that defined so much of 2020, I hope you are able to discover new reasons for thanksgiving. In fact, maybe this prayer will help put things in perspective for you today:
Father, it’s been a difficult year. Yet I’m so thankful this didn't surprise you, and that you’re still watching over me.
I’m thankful you're a God for all seasons, and that you’ve provided shelter in the storm.
Remind me to wait eagerly and expectantly for you to show up and work miracles as you always have.
My heart is thankful for everything you’ve given and that you’re with me in every situation.
Renew in my spirit a peace that passes understanding today and every day.
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O ye people! Worship your Guardian Lord, who created you and those who came before you, that ye may become righteous; (The Cow 21 )