6:00am alarm sounds.
Roll out of bed.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
2020. Thanksgiving. For a lot of us, putting those two words together feels like a bit of an oxymoron right about now. Thankfulness is the last thing we feel. And for so many of us, the feeling and reality of loss is a very real thing this year.
Millions of people lost their jobs in 2020.
Millions of lost loved ones.
Millions more sick.
And even if you aren’t in this category above, in some way or another, this year’s residual effects and massive life changes have impacted you emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
So, we can all agree it’s been hard, it’s been beyond challenging, and it almost feels like more than we can bear.
But…. what are we going to do with it?
So many of us start our days with the routine laid out above. We wake up. We grab our phones. We scroll. We search to be numbed. We search for an escape. We search for meaning. We just want a little peace. But we’ll never find peace if we’re not willing to fight for gratitude where it’s meant to be found. As long as we turn to temporary pleasure, we’ll be stolen from, actually straight up robbed of our souls in 2020.
Because truth is, we’re not getting out of 2020 unscathed. In fact, 2021 holds no promise of the “end” of what’s been challenging this year. I love you enough to tell you, 2020 will leave a scar. 2020 will wound us. So, knowing that we won’t escape the troubles and tribulations of the broken world we’re living in, what will you do with it? Will you let it be a holy scar? One that points to the glory of God? One that cries out, “This was painful, this was scary, this was one of the hardest things I’ve faced, yet God took it and used it for good. Let me tell you about my God through this scar.” Or will you let it be pain for the sake of pain without any ounce of purpose?
See, God never intends for our pain to be purposeless.
But in the wrestle, you might get bruised, you might end up with a limp, but you get God.
The apostle Paul put it like this: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8
Paul’s list of “wants” doesn’t look like ours today. Ours often look like this:
To ace our test.
To get the promotion.
To have our family perfectly healthy and safe.
To keep our jobs.
To have a comfortable home.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this list, but let’s compare it to Paul’s:
To know Christ.
Like Paul, if we truly desire God’s presence, we would give thanks in all circumstances.
Because God’s presence supersedes circumstances.
Have you ever thought about your biggest breakthroughs with God? Haven’t they in some form or fashion been connected to trials? To the lowest of lows? That’s not a coincidence. This is more because of us than God but it turns out we realize we need God a WHOLE LOT MORE when everything is stripped from us. And God never wants to be picked last, but in his mercy, He’ll take it. He’ll use it. And He’ll blow you away with His presence when you have nowhere else to turn.
And because God supersedes circumstances, gratitude supersedes circumstance.
God just wants us to want Him, friend. When we want Him, we give thanks for Him, not our good (or bad) circumstances. We actually give thanks for Him regardless of our circumstances.
What if our gratitude simply came from who God is and the fact that He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever? (Hebrews 13:8)
What if our gratitude was rooted in the fact that we can know God because his son Jesus came down to earth and put on sin for us, so that we could be made right with God? (2 Cor. 5:21)
He is God with us, our Immanuel. And because of Him, we can give thanks for the good, bad, hard, messy, and beautiful.
Friend, Jesus lives. Now that’s something to be thankful for. 2020 can take so much from us, but nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. (Romans 8:38-39)
So, this year, when it would be so easy to throw in the towel, don’t let anything steal your heart of gratitude. But instead, throw off your anxieties, and with thanksgiving, simply tell him what you need, and receive the peace he gives through His presence and through His son Jesus.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18