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When “Thanks” Is Difficult

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Sometimes “thanks” is hard. Remember that Christmas morning when you opened the gift from the long-lost relative? The relative was clearly clueless about you and kids in general (thus their gift selection), yet your mom still expected you to smile and say “thanks.” The global pandemic has made 2020 that kind of a year. We begrudgingly say “thanks” hoping that the 2021 box that we will soon open will have a more desirable year inside.

In Psalm 117, we find two verses that help us to better look beyond the current moment to what we can truly be thankful for: “Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.” (ESV) This year as we gather with our CDC approved number of people, in our CDC recommended location, smiling through CDC sanctioned masks of protection, here are three gospel truths that we can truly be thankful for in this less-than-perfect year.

1. The Lord Deserves Our Praise. The psalmist begins by calling all the nations to worship God. Everyone in every moment everywhere is called to lift high the greatness of God. When it is difficult to see greatness around us, we can look up and see the greatest One of all. He is worthy of our acknowledgment of His greatness through our praise even when “thanks” is hard to come by.

2. The Lord Pursues Us with His Love. God chases after us with His love. In his poem by the same name, Francis Thompson described God as “the hound of heaven.” The Heavenly Father is like a hound dog following after the rabbit waiting for the moment to strike. In the same way, God follows hard after us waiting for the moment we surrender to His love. We can say “thanks” in 2020 because God chases after us and woos our hearts back to Him with His love and grace.

3. The Lord Remains Faithful. In years like this, it is hard to know who we can trust and what we are to believe. There is one who is faithful, steadfast, and secure. Our God never changes. In the middle of the constant change we have experienced this year, we worship a God who does not change. His faithfulness has no end, and for this, we give “thanks.”

This different kind of Thanksgiving season, we can be truly thankful because things are still secure. God is the greatest, His love chases our hearts, and He will be faithful even through whatever next year’s gift box may bring.

Healthy Living Stress Ben Birdsong Head shot 1-Ben Birdsong

Writer, speaker, and minister

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