Simple Guide for Thankfulness in Tough Times
Updated: Apr 13, 2021
You must have heard people say things like, “let’s erase 2020 from the calendar”. Many speak about needing a redo of that year, because absolutely nothing went as planned.
I have experienced first hand the chaos of 2020 because it threw into complete disarray one of the most important events in one’s adult life. Instead of a wedding with friends and family coming together to celebrate, we were forced to settle for a handful of loved ones who selflessly agreed to share our special day with us. Months of planning our honeymoon were all for nothing, after planes were grounded, borders were closed and we all were relegated to our homes. On more than one occasion especially after our wedding, the magnitude and rarity of the situation will cross my mind with thoughts like, “of all the millions of weddings that took place, over all the centuries, your wedding day had to be smack-dab in the middle of a global pandemic”. It was surreal and at times, it seemed harsh and unfair.
This must be the way that many persons felt, who had their plans obliterated by Covid-19. Vacation trips, new academic journeys, milestone birthday celebrations, intentions to emigrate and the like, all came to a grinding halt, as the world tried to absorb what was happening. Suddenly, the spread of the virus catapulted from a “China problem” to a world problem.
The impact of Covid-19 touched every race, nation and class, and the humanness of our existence was exposed. That year is a sad reminder that people comforted or said goodbye to their loved ones, not in person but through screens. Yes, it was a tough year and 3 months into 2021, though some countries are eagerly “reopening”, some countries are entering into third or fourth lock downs. The loss and disruption caused by Covid-19 has been so bad, that we just want it to end and like a bad relationship, pretend that it never happened.
After those first few paragraphs it may be surprising that this article is not titled "The horror of 2020". However, despite the havoc that typified 2020, my testimony is of a "Thankful Twenty-Twenty". Yup, GRATITUDE!
To be honest, it was difficult to write about gratitude when so many persons I know experienced loss in that year, yet, that personal knowledge I believe, propels my conviction and urging about gratitude.
One of my favourite scriptures is from 1 Thessalonians 5 verses 16 to 18 which says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This is a beloved text, because I find that its usefulness is most conspicuous not in the good times, but in circumstances as happened in 2020, when things are going all wrong. We are humans, no one needs to tell us to rejoice when things are going well. We are always so thankful when our desires are met and we are often eager to share good news, as we should. However, it is also the human nature to murmur and complain when things are not going well, wishing them away for better days. Who can blame us though, no one likes interrupted plans: from unexpected traffic that turned a simple 10-minute commute into a 60-minute nightmare, to dreaded news of a colleague's passing, after gutsy laughs with him/her only days before. However, when we are surrounded by hurt, uncertainty and interruptions, my encouragement is to give thanks.
If we adjust our perspective, we can always find something or things for which to be thankful. We must CHOOSE to have a heart that is light with the joy of the Lord, instead of heavy with the darkness of our present temporary circumstances. That sounds utopic I am sure, and it is clearly easier said than done, but this is why God also gives us the “how”. He says to pray continually. Prayer makes you focus on God; the nature, character, promises and peace of God. The command to be thankful at all times reminds you that God never lost control, still loves you immensely and He will continue to protect and uphold you.
I loved 2020, because I married the love of my life - the man who God set apart for me. When we corrected our perspective, we saw that it didn’t matter that we could not get the celebration that we thought we needed. Instead we were simply grateful that God blessed us with each other.
I loved 2020, because in circumstances when the enemy and his minions attacked, I found strength in God and discovered a perseverance that I never knew I had. I was also able to extend grace and forgiveness, just as God continuously forgives me.
I loved 2020, because I courageously embarked on a journey to pursue a childhood dream to write, and started this blog, which has allowed me to share the eternal, unwavering and unmerited grace and love of God, with the world.
I loved 2020, because we took our eyes off ourselves and the majority of our prayers were for others; for the safety and keeping of our loved ones and for a hurting world. Our calling as disciples became that much more important in a time of crisis.
I loved 2020, because perceived set-backs, were actually divine delays that worked in our favour, with better outcomes than we could ever imagine.
I loved 2020, because strongholds over the lives of those I love started to break. Persons discovered God, discovered His truth about who they are called to be and His purpose for their lives.
I don’t know your circumstance, but I will dare to say that if you take another look, you too could say that you loved 2020. It may have been littered with loss, interruptions and disappointment for many, but the fact that God has kept you is a testimony that his purpose for you on this earth is not completed. Be thankful that your journey of self-discovery is ongoing and that the best of you and of your destiny is still ahead of you.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 118:1 NLT