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How can we give thanks in 2020?

2020 has been a year of conflict, pandemic, social unrest, uncertainty, fear, and heartbreak. Our world has been turned upside down. Thousands of people lost their jobs, or even their entire businesses, while others lost lives of their loved ones. Even if the events of the year have not drastically affected your family, everyone has experienced some level of sacrifice and personal loss.

In the next few days, our nation will be celebrating Thanksgiving, a day to remember the harvest and blessings of the past year. Considering the difficulties and hardships of 2020, it might be easy to forget all the reasons we have to be grateful. Pausing to reflect and thank God for his rich blessings is the perfect opportunity to reorient your perspective as we enter the holiday season.

10 Reasons to Give Thanks

  1. If you participated in the National Bible Bee Summer Study this year, one easy reason to be thankful is the fact that the whole study theme focused on trusting God. We praise God for his hand at work, because all the NBB study material was selected and planned long before the pandemic was even a thought.
  2. In addition, we can be thankful for the example of godly men and women in the Bible, whose lives testify of God’s faithfulness as they learned to trust him when they did not understand. Overflowing with righteous examples, the Bible points us to imitate men like Joseph and Paul, and women like Esther and Mary.
  3. Another reason to be thankful is that the Lord speaks to His people through His word. The Holy Spirit has not left us as orphans. He is here, guiding and leading us in the way we should go (Deut. 32:46-47, John 14:18, Psalm 32:7-8). His promises are true, and they will never return empty but will accomplish the Lord’s purpose.
  4. What’s more, we can be thankful that we have a great and eternal hope in heaven. This world is not our home. Because of Jesus, we look forward to a new heaven and a new earth. In that beautiful place, God will remove all pain, sorrow, and death forever (Revelation 22:1-8). While we live in this world, we will endure tribulation. But, our hope and confidence rests in Jesus who has overcome the world (John 16:33).
  5. Furthermore, we can be thankful for the gospel opportunities brought by the pandemic. Because COVID-19 moved mortality, fear and uncertainty to the forefront of people’s minds, they have been more open and willing to hear about Jesus and the things of God. Personally, I have encountered multiple people who were set in their beliefs (or lack thereof) before COVID, but who have now turned to Jesus and been baptized as his followers.
  6. Additionally, we can be thankful for the increased time with immediate family. While the stay-at-home-quarantine had both positive and negative effects, one positive is that families were forced to spend more time together. In our busy American lifestyle, spending extra time with the people closest to you is a gift often neglected and ignored.
  7. Plus, we can be thankful for the opportunities to stay connected with extended friends and family through technology. Although unable to interact physically, technology like Zoom helped people still connect virtually and spend time together. Useful for keeping in touch with quarantine grandparents or at-risk relatives, technology also opened the door for long distance friends to reconnect.
  8. Another reason to be thankful is the globalization of church ministry. Because many churches transitioned into an online format, sermons, podcasts, Bible studies, worship services, and prayer all became available online. This transition fast tracked the globalization of church attendance (virtually), and also the spread of the gospel into previously unreached places. People who were reluctant or unable to attend church before, now have less barriers in their way.
  9. Also, we can be thankful for the many “ordinary” gifts that we take for granted each day. The ability to run, walk, see, hear, smell, taste, and just experience the fullness of life is truly a rich blessing. Many people in the world live without one or more of these “essential” life functions. When was the last time you stopped to thank God for them?
  10. Finally, we can be grateful for all the individual testimonies of God’s faithfulness. Whether God met you personally, or worked in the life of someone you know, his presence has not been absent. For example, a Summer Study Host, Elena Russell, testifies to the unbelievable peace that God supplied when she was stuck at a crossroads, uncertain which way to go. As her family worked to provide Mrs. Russell’s mother with the 24 hour care she needed, God reminded Elena of worship lyrics, encouraging her that he is faithful and he is the one who takes good care of us. Without God’s strength and grace, she would have been defeated. But when God moves in our hearts and in our circumstances, he is the one who receives all the glory.

With all these reasons in mind, I encourage you, spend a quiet moment with God and thank him for who He is, and what he has done in your life and the lives of others this last year. As we turn our hearts away from our circumstances and onto the Lord instead, he fills us with all the joy and strength we need.

Written by National Bible Bee Alumna: Tabby Boulware