It’s difficult to feel thankful when your year has been full of disappointments and heartbreak.
COVID isn’t the only thing that has taken people’s lives this year. Many have lost loved ones to violence, cancer, heart disease, and car accidents. Strict lockdowns due to coronavirus restrictions are keeping families apart and have canceled many church services and events. This has been a tumultuous year, but it is especially important to give thanks during times of trouble to remind us that we are still a blessed people.
In November, many churchgoers often recount the things that have happened to them or the people in their lives that they are thankful for. Even though 2020 has been less than stellar, I think it’s fitting that we recount our own blessings in spite of all the devil has thrown at us this year. So, here are five things we can be thankful for in 2020.
1. Quality Time
How many have spent a lot of time with family members or roommates this year because you’re working from home or are going to school online? I certainly have, and it’s been both a blessing and a…well, it’s been memorable to say the least! My family and I are often tired of each other’s presence when we’re the only people each of us ever spend time with these days, but it isn’t something anyone should take for granted. For many people, work, school, and special events have taken their attention away from quality time with family, but 2020 has allowed us to be with our parents, siblings, or roommates more and (hopefully) helped us come to appreciate more time to chat and eat dinner with loved ones.
We’ve also had more quality time to work on our relationship with God. He is the most important One in our lives, but it is easy for our jobs and schoolwork to distract us from spending enough time with Him. I know that since the lockdowns began, I’ve had much more time to plan out time spent studying His Word and more time in the mornings or throughout my day to pray. Prayer is essential to our walk with God, and I’m certainly thankful for more time with Him this year to work on my relationship with Him and grow spiritually.
2. A Slower Pace
Before 2020, things were go-go-go 24/7 for 365 days of the year for many of us. Once lockdowns began in March and school moved online and businesses sent employees home to work and church services went online and church and community leaders canceled events, life really s l o w e d down. I began to miss going places and doing things—well, as often as I used to, which wasn’t very often for this introvert.
When we speak of a time with a slower pace, many minds go to a good fifty years ago and perhaps much further back than that. We think of a time when people weren’t rushing everywhere, whether to work or social events or school, weren’t home late after attending meetings or shopping, weren’t always busy with thinking of the next school event or the next work meeting or the next convention or the next big service to plan. For many of us, and for me especially, 2020 fits that criteria of a slower pace, and it’s given us the ability to appreciate other things in life that we were perhaps too busy to notice before. Things like an extra hour or two in the evenings to relax and read a book. Things like more time on the weekends to clean or plan an activity at home with your children. Things like time to deep clean the house or prepare an intricate meal every evening. Things for which we were often too busy before 2020.
Church is essential, but in 2020, the enemy has targeted the church more specifically this year with lockdowns and orders that claim the church isn’t essential and that congregants must only meet for church virtually. Of course, I am very thankful for the technology we have to meet online and hear our ministers preach a Word from the Lord through our screens. We’re blessed to be able to continue having church and sharing our online services with others even if it isn’t in person. However, we cannot forsake the assembling of ourselves together (see Hebrews 10:25). Thankfully, many churches have been able to meet again in person throughout this year, even if it’s been sporadic, and churches have become very creative with finding ways to meet in person, whether it’s in the church parking lot or in someone’s yard. Online church simply is not the same and is not sufficient for the body of Christ. I am tremendously thankful for the people of God this year and for being able to meet in person to hear from the Lord and worship with fellow believers in Christ. If 2020 has reminded us of anything, it’s that we must never take the church for granted.
4. That God is Our Healer
The COVID epidemic has reminded many people this year of how frail and fragile human life is. Our lives are like a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away (see James 4:14). We can get sick, and we can die, but God can never die. He lives forever and has all power, and amazingly, He loves us enough to use His power to heal our fragile, earthly bodies and extend our lives here on earth so we can spend more time with loved ones and fulfill His Purpose for us. He also loves us enough to free us from our earthly burdens if He chooses and let us go into our rest before the trumpet sounds and we rise again to meet Him in the sky. Our lives are in His hands. This year, I am thankful that He has healed so many from COVID, including myself and my family, and from other diseases and injuries. Our human frailties may be discouraging, but let them instead be a reminder of how great our God is, for He has no frailties!
5. His Promises
The promises of the Lord are yes and amen. Whatever He says He will do, rest assured that He will do it. He has promised that He will never leave nor forsake us (see Hebrews 13:5), that the seasons and day and night would always be while the earth remains (see Genesis 8:22), that He will supply all our needs (see Philippians 4:19), that His grace is sufficient for us (see 2 Corinthians 12:9), that when He sets us free we are free indeed (see 8:36), and that we have eternal life through Christ (Titus 1:2). His promises are forever because His Word is forever, and I am thankful after all the turmoil of this year that we still have hope in Jesus!
No matter what unpleasant surprises 2020 may have brought you, dear reader, I hope you can still find within yourself the ability to thank God for His promises and blessings. God truly has blessed His people, and we are lucky each day to wake up and have another day to live for Him and spend time with the loved ones He has placed in our lives.