Thanksgiving Isn’t Just for the Good Times

Is it hard to be thankful this year? Have things not gone well for you? Did you have your heart set on a certain type of year, and it never materialized? Did everything that could possibly go wrong go wrong? Did all the goals you set for this year crumble at your feet? Do you feel like life is worse than it’s ever been?

Have you stopped at any point this year and looked for the good moments? Have you paused long enough to count your blessings?  Have you looked past the ugly and seen beauty? Even for a moment? After all. The daffodils bloomed in the spring. The lilacs and peonies still offered their sweet fragrance. The leaves on the trees didn’t fail to do their job.  The apple trees and grapevines produced their bountiful harvest. The sweet corn tousled. The wheat was harvested in the fall. Life went on, not as usual, but it continued.

Our country isn’t at war. And yet it is.  We’re at war with ourselves.  And it’s the worst battle we’ve ever faced. We face an uncertain future like never before. We’re unprepared. Yet God is in control. God’s will is being accomplished.  For that we must be thankful. For if we aren’t thankful that God is working during the tough times, why would we expect him to work in the good times? Where is our trust?

This year, chickens have produced eggs and cows have provided milk. The sun rose each morning and set each evening. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were served in most every home.  Every day. Life does go on.

Why does life have to be good in order for us to be joyful?


Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thessalonians 5:16-18


Some say that desperate times call for desperate measures.  How about we desperately seek God? How about desperately looking for things to be thankful for? How about desperately trying to please God? Above all else. 

Lest we think this year is wasted and useless, it is not.  It is far from that. Oh. It has been a trying year for many. But we have gained much from these daunting times. More time with our family. A slower pace of life. We’ve learned that there are storms we must sit back and wait out. We’ve learned there really are some things that are out of our control.  We’ve learned to just wait. We’ve realized the need for community is really a need. We’ve always taken it for granted. We’ve also taken for granted those who serve the sick and the poor, the needy and the lonely. Those workers are so needed and appreciated. Much more than they will ever know.

I thought 2020 would be the year I got everything I wanted. Now I know 2020 is the year I appreciate everything I have.

anonymous

We can learn to find joy in the smallest of things. Things we once took for granted. The chance to actually see someone smile without a mask. The fist bump from a friend.  The copier at work actually working. The neighbor stopping by to deliver chocolate chip cookies. The beautiful flowers sent by a dear friend. The unexpected nap on a rainy afternoon. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be good.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

It would be easy to focus on everything that went wrong this year. But if we just take a minute to search for what went right, our perspective on life will change. Oh. The future still seems uncertain. There are obstacles to recovery. But hope is on the horizon. Without hope, we might as well give up. But God is good, even when life isn’t. God is with us. In the midst of the trials and fears and uncertainty, God is true and certain. God is sovereign and powerful. He hates evil and loves good. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. For that we can be thankful. Let’s put our hope in him.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord ! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. Habakkuk 3:17‭-‬19

Uncharted Waters

John was sent to live in exile on the island of Patmos as a result of anti-Christian persecution. His crime: he preached the word of God and he lived his life as a testimony for Jesus. He lived and survived alone on that island. All alone.

But he wasn’t alone.

During John’s exile, God was close to him. God was all he had. God spoke to him through a vision. John wrote down everything he saw in the vision. The name of his book is Revelation. It is the last book of the Bible. It’s a unique book full of visions and prophecies. God spoken words in a time of aloneness but never alone.

What does a man do all alone on an island? How does he spend his time? How does he survive? What goes through his mind? Will he be bored with only God to talk to? Does he have God’s word stored in his heart? Can he can dig through the reservoir of his mind and find strength and comfort from his knowledge of Scripture? When all has been lost, is his faith in God alone enough?


Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12


We may feel like we’re living in exile at this moment in history. But we’re not. Some of us are living with family. Some are alone, but they keep in touch with family and friends. If you know someone who is truly alone, reach out. Check on them.

This time in history is a first for everyone. Uncharted waters for even the best of us. Now is the time to gather your family close. Those who live with you. Those you can be with. Keep in touch with family and friends. The contact means so much.

Oh. Things have changed. We can no longer shop in stores. visit a salon. eat in a restaurant. go to a movie. Sure. These closings are temporary, but they’re new to us. We’ve never experienced anything like this. This change will continue without an ending in sight. Who knew?

Private funerals. Private weddings. Even close family members can’t attend. Hospital patients alone without family or visitors. Everyone needs to stay in place.

Oh. It’s easy to be frustrated. My hair appointment was only 5 days away when it was canceled. My grocery store was out of potatoes. The bakery that makes my dogs favorite treats has been out of them for weeks. I’ve had to start working from home. Petty inconveniences.

Lean in. They say. Hold your loved ones a little closer. Look across the room at the one who stole your heart. Think back to the reason they won your heart. And pause. Remember the moments of first love. And recall the reasons you chose to say “I do”. Make the most of this time with your loved ones.

Watch your children as they do homework. Oh. You may have never planned to home school, but now you are. Make the most of it. Be patient. Extend grace. Show mercy. Have fun. Let these days be the good times your kids look back on when they are older.

Allow yourself to become bored. This could spur you on to learn a new hobby. A hobby that could be life changing. Or not. But who knows what change can do for you. Be willing to explore. Read a book. Take a walk. Try a new recipe. Let your hair grow. You have no choice in the matter. Embrace it.

Pay it forward to the grocery worker. Pharmacy staff. Delivery drivers. Bankers. Healthcare workers. First responders. City, county, state and national employees. Everyone needs a break every now and then. Don’t judge a person’s politics. Embrace differences. But keep your convictions.

Lasting self confidence is built in pure faith in God. Trusting and obeying God in the hard times of life builds a strong reliance on him that produces an unmatched strength of character. 

In Christ alone I place my trust. 

This period of isolation may be the time in your life where you reap the greatest blessings from God. This may be the season where you find life’s true meaning. Trust the master of the uncharted waters to lead you to new depths in your walk with him. 

Read a book. Study the Bible. Memorize Scripture. Live out the Beatitudes. Honor those in authority. Pray. Really pray.

That money you would typically spend at a restaurant or sports event or concert. That money you would use to pay for a haircut or a massage or a pedicure. All that discretionary money you aren’t spending right now. Put it into savings. Or give to a needy nonprofit organization. Send an extra check to your church. Give to others in need. After all, how many new clothes or shoes do you need if you’re staying home all day? How much food or toilet paper do you need to hoard when others can’t pay their rent? How do you expect charities to help when they don’t have the funds coming in? How is a church supposed to help in times of crisis if believers aren’t faithful in giving their tithes and offerings?

Be generous. Be the giver. Be the gift. Chart new waters.