2020. Four numbers now synonymous with a “tough year” including the untimely death of dreams, jobs, relationships, churches, and even dear people we greatly miss. If we are not careful, this year will be forever shaped by our visceral fears, challenges, and even complaints. When the truth is that every year, including this present one of challenge, is comprised of individual days made by the Lord with an attached mandate to be moments in which we are to choose with our will to “rejoice and be glad in them” (Ps 118:24).

The question is how do we offer up to God not only a “broken hallelujah” but a defies-the-circumstances gratitude as well. Here are a few redemptive reasons that I have discovered in this tough year to hopefully inspire your next persistent wave of gratitude toward the Lord:

1. God, thank you for moments this year when my faith had to rest squarely and only upon you instead of superficial sources of confidence.

Ps 62:5-7 “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.”

2. God, thank you for extra slow and quiet moments with my family and you that normally find themselves crowded out by a busy, clamoring world.

1 Th 4:11 “And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;”

3. God, thank you for the ways in which this season has forced me to adapt, change, and grow in my personal, professional, and ministry life. (Including getting used to so many Zoom calls.)

Ph 3:13-14 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

4. God, thank you for those around me, known and unknown, who have come to saving faith in Christ Jesus while the world slowed down and breathlessly pondered the brevity of life.

Ph 1:12 “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;”

5. God, thank you, as difficult as it is, for the exposing/purging out of those in my personal space, workplace and church who were not authentic in their intentions or faith.

1 Jn 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

6. God, thank you for new leaders that have been enlisted in our church during the voids and opportunities generated/intensified by this prolonged season of internal and external tensions.

Ph 2:29-30 “Receive him (Epaphroditus) therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.”

7. God, thank you for how precious knowing your Word instead of man’s foolish, empty words has become to my otherwise-reeling heart and mind.

Ps 119:71 “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”

8. God, thank you for providing for my needs, no matter how low the “toilet paper type” supplies of this world dipped or how high the bills piled.

Ps 37:25 “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”

Oh friend, we have so much for which to be thankful! It might be a different, harder to swallow kind of context in which we celebrate Thanksgiving this time around, but…it is the same, tenderer-than-we-ever-realized-before God to whom we worship. Take time to make your own list of “Tough Thanksgivings” to the Lord and let this year be the most robust, authentic season of gratitude your heart has ever expressed to the One whose is much more faithful than any of us truly realized back in the “good old days.”

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash