It may seem somewhat counterintuitive to focus on giving thanks just when the on-going challenges of the covid-19 pandemic seem to be pummeling our nation once again.
However, I think the healthiest way to view this Thanksgiving is to see it within the context of the entire year. We might very well miss the importance of gratitude if we focus simply on what’s happening in our lives just on this particular weekend.
Here are my five specific points of thanksgiving for this day as we come toward the close of this entire year.
- Despite the ravages of the pandemic, God has provided for us! With all due compassion and care for the many thousands, if not millions of people, who have been directly affected by the pandemic, and especially those who’ve been isolated or even worse, have lost loved ones, God has been faithful. By that I mean that at this point in the year all signs are positive that we are close to having effective vaccines for national distribution within weeks, along with a number of effectual therapies that greatly reduce mortality rates. In addition, most all of us were able to continue to eat and take care of our basic needs throughout these difficult months, which was a true blessing from God when so many of our systems and services were under great stress.
- We are ending our year in relative peace. Yes, there were times throughout 2020 when conflicts, protests and riots were splashed across our headlines and screens for weeks and months at a time. Once again, with due concern and compassion for those who suffered the loss of their businesses and/or incomes throughout these difficult months, we are closing the year in a state of relative peace both nationally and without a doubt, internationally. He is our peace! (Ephesians 2:14)
- Our future is brightening for economic recovery. This has undoubtedly been the most difficult economic cycle in my lifetime and included many weeks when no one was certain if, let alone when, we might recover. Though some sectors of our economy are still suffering and face another wave of restrictions, there’s no question that the economic horizon is brightening. The Lord is Jehovah Rophe, our Provider. In mid-March, who could have imagined that our best economic indicators would reach an all time high just eight months later?!
- We give thanks for God’s sovereign and unwavering faithfulness. Even though a number of us have had times of wondering just where things were going to go with regards to our national dialogue and the over-all wellbeing of our nation, it’s been the hand of God that has provided optimism and hope in our previous three acknowledgements. This isn’t the work of some human plan of recovery or some strategic and unified decision making. This is the favor of God in answer to the prayers of His people.
- The Lord is worthy of our thanks and praise, but also of our humility and penitence. Throughout the trials of this past year, God has provided deliverances and blessings when we were often at the very end of our own devices. For that we give Him great praise and thanksgiving! At the same time, however, we must turn to Him with humble hearts and ask for forgiveness for our national disregard for His worthiness and presence in the fabric of our national identity. Both thanksgiving and repentance are appropriate in this 2020 year of great challenge.
- I would encourage you to ponder these five items and close with a prayer for the Lord to bring healing to the wounds of our nation and to restore the brokenhearted and all those who have suffered through this lamentable season and to bring us back into a time of peace, harmony and revival in our land.
P.S. If you want an additional perspective on just how significant these principles are, please read the attached proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln of October 3, 1863. It was the most divided time in our nation’s history and yet all the things that we have affirmed here, he publicly declared 160 years ago.