Dad and daughter carving a Thanksgiving turkey together as mom smiles and watches with candles on the table

Those of us who live in America are thinking about Thanksgiving this week. And boy, does it seem very unlike any Thanksgiving we have had in the past.

Thanksgiving in 2020 Sure Is Different

For many extended families, it will be the first time they don’t get together because of family members being ill, new state laws, or quarantines. For some, especially those in nursing homes or living alone, the loneliness may be crushing.

Others may not be able to afford to travel right now due to difficult job situations. Or there may not be a big, fancy traditional meal.

This is not the year we wanted or hoped for. The whole COVID thing feels like it is getting really old.

And yet, there are blessings still to be thankful for.

  • Many of us have had more family time than ever before this year.
  • Many have had a slower pace which has been healthy.
  • Most of us don’t take as many things for granted as we did last year.
  • A lot of us have had our faith stretched and have done significant growing in Christ.
  • Many of us have found ways to minister to and bless others in unique ways during this time.
  • Many people’s hearts have softened to the Gospel in new ways as people realize God is giving us all a wake-up call around the world.
  • Most of us have a roof over our heads, food on the table, and clothing to wear.

Can I Be Thankful for the Yucky Stuff?

I believe that we can actually be thankful for the challenges and problems, too. Not that the icky things, themselves, are fun. But that God can work through them for our good and His glory. That is a promise for all who know Him! (Rom. 8:28-29)

There is a verse most of us are familiar with about being thankful:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thess. 5:18

It’s pretty easy to be thankful when things seem good. Although, it can also be easy to take those good things (and God) for granted, if we are not careful.

But when things are hard and painful, it doesn’t usually come naturally to us to be thankful. And yet, God often uses the painful times to work the most powerful blessings and miracles into our lives.

These are the times when we grow the most spiritually, when we are purified and refined. They are a good time to lean into the Lord more than ever and to invite Him to teach and shape us into greater Christlikeness and holiness.

And these are the times when the world and everyone around us watch us the most, waiting to see what we will do.

Our witness and example have the most impact in the hard times—on our husbands, children, neighbors, coworkers, and friends. When our faith is tested and proved genuine, it reveals to us and to others that our faith is the real deal.

Trials are an incredible opportunity to live out the love and power of Christ as we seek Him first and desire His glory above all else.

Habakkuk’s Question

Habakkuk lived in a time when Judah was very wicked and the leaders were corrupt. He was perplexed. He asked God why He allowed the wickedness to continue and did nothing while evil ran rampant. (Kind of sounds like 2020, doesn’t it?)

God answered that He was raising up an even more wicked nation to bring His righteous judgment against Judah. Babylonians came against them with a sword to kill many and to take the survivors into captivity for 70 years. Then He would restore the remnant of Israel to their land. And God would judge Babylon and destroy it.

But God encouraged Habakkuk and those who would remain faithful to Him that He would be with them and would sustain those who trust in Him.

Habakkuk decided to wait patiently on God in the midst of a famine knowing an army would soon overtake his beloved country because Judah had refused to repent and turn to God.

He trusted God when he knew things were going to be really tough. And this great trial revealed his beautiful faith in the Lord’s sovereignty and goodness. His faith brought joy to God’s heart and shines a bright light for us to follow.

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

May we have faith like Habakkuk and trust God through all the good and painful times, that He will accomplish His eternally good purposes through them all. The Lord will also sustain all who trust in Him today!

Journal Your Gratitude

Today, I made a list in my prayer journal of blessings from this year that I want to thank God for.

Then I made a list of all the painful, hard things I could think of from this year. The things that, honestly, I have complained about or things that cause me great concern. Then I thanked God for each of those things

What if I can look at each difficult relationship, each conflict, each setback, each disappointment, COVID-19, the unrest in America, the disasters we have experienced around the world, and the uncertainty of 2021 with heavenly eyes?

What would I see?

What if I invite God to bring goodness, blessing, and glory to Himself through all the things that I really would rather not have to experience. What if they are the very things that will result in the miracles I have been praying for—spiritual growth for believers, salvation for the lost, the strengthening of the church, spiritual treasures for me, the glory of God in each situation?

Make the Most of This Thanksgiving

I would love to hear from you all of the creative ways you will be celebrating Thanksgiving this year and ways you are planning to seek to be a blessing to others in these unusual circumstances.

  • What are some new traditions you want to start?
  • How do you plan to set your heart and soul on thankfulness in new ways?
  • What are some great things about the way things may be different this year?
  • How do you plan to be flexible and roll with changing plans or disappointments, looking for the best in the situation?
  • How do you plan to set the pace for your family by your grateful attitude this week?
  • What are the things that will be hard? Maybe you need to be able to take a bit of time to grieve for those things?

What an incredible blessing that we can encourage each other and spur one another on toward love and good deeds—and all the more as we see The Day approaching!

Much love, dear sisters!

Prayer

Lord,

You are at work in powerful ways around the world and in each of our lives. Help us to focus on Your goodness. Help us to praise You, like Habakkuk did, even in the toughest of circumstances. Empower us to be faithful to You.

Please give us eyes to see what You are doing and help us trust and love You more than ever, resting on the promises of Your Word and allowing You to restore our souls.

Help us to rejoice in You and be more grateful than ever this Thanksgiving week and beyond. As long as we have You, Your Word, Your love, and Your promises, we have the greatest Treasure in all the universe.

  • We choose to be thankful to You.
  • We choose to trust in You.
  • We choose to yield our lives fully to Your Lordship.

We invite You to do all You desire to do in the world, in America, in our marriages/families, and in each of us for Your greatest possible glory!

Please make us fruitful and help us to be instruments of righteousness, love, and blessing in Your hands.

Your wisdom is infinitely higher than ours. Your thoughts are greater than our thoughts. We simply trust and rest in You, our Good Shepherd. You know how to provide for us and lead us safely home.

Amen!

Related

Finding Contentment in Christ Alone in the Midst of a Great Trial

Is Joy in a Painful Trial Really Possible?

Cultivate a Spirit of Gratitude in Your Marriage

The Gratitude Challenge

2 thoughts on “Be Thankful in All Things

  1. Hi April,
    I really appreciate this positive, life-giving message. God has shown us in 2020 that we need to cling to him tightly and trust in Him every second.

    I’m thanking God for the trials of 2020 since it is helping us to see how powerful God is and how much we need to depend on Him. I’m praying for mass conversions in 2020 across the four corners of the world.

    I have been really inspired by Rwandan genocide-survivors like Immaculee Ilibagiza and Jeanne Celestine Lakin. These women went through greater trials than we can ever imagine and basically lost everything …. except their faith in Christ. In the aftermath of the genocide, they both struggled through rivers of tears, PTSD and deep depression and because they clung onto Christ, they are now full of love, peace, joy, hope and forgiveness. They are tender-hearted, loving and kind. They are shining like bright lights to the world, leading millions to Christ. I pray that each of us would shine more brightly through our trials and bring others to Christ as well.

    If anyone needs inspiration, please read their memoirs:
    – Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagize
    – A Voice in the Darkness by Jeanne Celestine Lakin

    God bless you,
    Nneka

    1. Nneka,

      Thank you so much for your encouraging message and for sharing about Immaculee and Jeanne. What a powerful testimony for Jesus! May we have such power through the Holy Spirit to be faithful no matter what we may face.

      Much love, dear sister!
      April

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