Today I was brought up short with a thought: it is amazing how quickly the excitement of new possessions can wear off? All that excitement of buying gifts and opening gifts is now a few days behind us. We have overindulged, caught up with family and now our focus turns to the days ahead and the prospect of a new year.
What a year 2020 has been! A lot of what we hoped for in 2020 was not realized. Think back at the start of 2020 and the anticipation you had for the year. Remember, how quickly the excitement of the new year was drowned in the reality of COVID. I don’t know a single person that has not had to sacrifice some dream, hope or anticipated event this year. As we reflect on the year, we are all aware of the impact of COVID on our lives, the economy, the lockdowns and isolation. Like many people around the globe, there seems to be one common emotion: “Thank goodness 2020 is over!”
But before we pack up the year 2020, let us examine the gift that it was.
“A gift?” you may cry. Yes a gift. If you are still alive and have experienced this year, that in itself is a gift. I am meditating on 1 Thes 5:18 in the Amplified version:
“…in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
The New King James Version says: “…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
God was not surprised by how 2020 turned out! Covid and all of its implications where part of Gods plan, purpose and will for our lives in 2020. He knew exactly what circumstances we would face, what our experiences would be and what we may have lost, sacrificed or missed. He is still able to bring good out of it all (Rom 8:28).
Now before we wrap up this year and forget about it, in anticipation of 2021, perhaps a moment of thanksgiving despite the circumstances of 2020 is in order.
1 Thes 5:18 tells us to be thankful in “everything.” The Greek word ‘en panti’ means in every detail, even in the smallest way. Regardless of what has happened or not happened, Paul tells us to be thankful.
Thankfulness is a choice.
You and I need to turn our focus onto the good that came out of 2020 and try not to focus overly on the foul things that happened in 2020. It is not that we are not aware of the bad, or pretending nothing terrible happened, but you and I are choosing to display an attitude of thanksgiving “in everything”. Really when we consider all the horrible things that could have come about in our lives but didn’t, we can find a lot of reasons to be thankful. God has spared you and me from so much.
In 2 Tim 3:2, one of the characteristics of people in the last days, is that people would be unthankful and ungrateful. Where once people were thankful, this is not going to be a characteristic of the world. People will no longer focus on the blessings they have in their lives, instead, they will fixate on what they do not have.
Indeed, we live in a world today where people are so self-consumed and self-focused, that they are rarely grateful for even the smallest acts of kindness or generosity. If anything, 2020 has pointed out how blessed we actually are, and how much of what we have, we have taken for granted. It is a slow slide from ungratefulness into bitterness and heart-hardening attitudes, if we do not make a point of maintaining an attitude of thankfulness that recognizes God’s goodness in our lives. This, is exactly what David says in Psalm 103:2, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”
2021 Promises a continuation of some situations, economies that still need to recover and yet a hope that things will move on. Before we move on into 2021, let us take the time to thank the Lord for what has been.
Lord, help me to remember all the good things you have done for me in 2020. Forgive me, for being so focused on the gift of 2021, that I have forgotten all the good gifts I have received from Your hand in 2020. I refuse to be like the world around me that forget’s God goodness; instead, I choose to take the time and not neglect to say thank-you. You have saved me from sin, rescued me from myself and delivered me from harm in 2020. You have kept me safe in all kinds of situations, growing my heart with Your Word and teaching me with Your Spirit. Forgive me, Lord, for allowing ingratitude to creep into my life. Help me to appreciate the blessings I have received because I know that I will not be able to recall all of Your goodness to me in this year. I pray this In Jesus Name!
- Are you grateful or thankful for what you have in your life, or has a spirit of un-thankfulness started taking hold of your life?
- How long has it been since you considered the blessings of 2020 and taken the time to thank the Lord specifically for what He has done and provided in your life?
- To what extent has your heart and mind become focused on what you do not have, rather on what you do have?