It is Thanksgiving 2020.
This year has been a difficult year for so many. Regardless of your political views, opinions on masks and lockdowns, level of health, or place of residence, the likelihood that you are among those who struggled this year is fairly high.
Exactly 400 years ago in the year 1620, the ship The Mayflower reached the shores of Cape Cod. What followed may be called the greatest trial in the lives of some of those pilgrims, if not all; out of their small band of just over 100 people, nearly every one fell terribly ill. Half of them died before the end of their first winter. During their first year in the New World, the pilgrims underwent intense hardships, privations, and losses. Yet, when harvest time came in 1621 and they found themselves blessed by God with a good harvest, they invited their friends and celebrated a Thanksgiving feast because the LORD had blessed them.
I am not going to try to compare our hardships to the pilgrims of 1620. I don’t think that can be done, neither do I find it helpful. Job losses, illness, depression, loneliness, disappointment, loss of loved ones… I know the list goes on. Our hardships look different than those of the Plymouth colony, but hardships they are. As we near the end of the year, “2020” has become synonymous with a bad time. If they could, there would be a rush to end it yesterday and get on to the, hopefully, brighter future of 2021. Thanksgiving Day seems so insignificant and boring in light of some of the other things we’ve been fighting.
Let me encourage you, however, to take a step back and pause. I’m not going to tell you that you need to wait for Thanksgiving Day to pass before you put up your Christmas decorations – it’s a little late for that anyhow. I would like to suggest though that, this year, this difficult, painful year, where so many of us, myself included, have experienced fear, loss, loneliness, heartache, isolation, illness, job loss, and many other things – may I submit that this year is the year that we need to follow in the footsteps of the Plymouth Pilgrims and remember Thanksgiving.
This year, the year where so many difficulties, trials, and struggles seem to have collided into one place, this year where we are tempted to just wish the year be gone, this year is the one that we need to remember Thanksgiving and practice the name in deed. This is the year we need to take the time to recall the blessings that the LORD planted in the midst of the trials – and I know that He did – and thank Him for those, because this is the year it’s difficult. This is the year, we want to get wrapped up in our trials and might just forget altogether.
Have we eaten? Talked to our best friend on the phone? Attended church? Made a new dress? Found a new job? Enjoyed a Zoom call? Reached the end of a project or goal? Worked through depression? Written a book? Read a book? Bought a new book? Found a new favorite song? Taken up walking? Spent more time with people that you normally don’t see very often? Survived a dreadful illness? Had water to drink? How about coffee or tea, or even better, both?
These are blessings, even in the midst of trials. (And I know there are more. I’m not trying to be exhaustive.) These are gifts of the LORD to the people that He created and we, as His people, ought to be thanking Him no matter what has gone on, because He is good and His mercy endures forever. And even if we can’t think of a single thing – and I’m certain we can if we try hard enough – have we been forgiven and cleansed by the saving blood of the Redeemer? Am I a child, loved by my Father, the Creator of the Universe? Then we have much reason to be thankful!
This year, more so than its easier predecessors, we need to refuse to allow ourselves to brush off or forget Thanksgiving. Christmas is beautiful – but it can wait (or take a break) for a day. This year, even more than we ever have before, let’s take this day and thank the LORD for His blessings, His provision, His love and kindness. Make lists, share on social media, talk about them with others. We should be filled with thanksgiving and praise to the LORD every day, but let’s make a point to set aside this Thanksgiving holiday as an especially grateful one. Let us join the psalmist and “come before His presence with thanksgiving, let us joyfully shout with psalms. For the LORD is a great God and a King about all gods…” And He is still great and still King, even amidst the hardships of 2020. Let’s remember that and thank Him!
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” Psalm 107:1
To the KING be all the glory!