Well, it’s Thanksgiving Day 2020 and things are a little different this year. Clearly, although millions of people traveled to the homes of loved ones, the Covid virus has nonetheless had an impact and celebrations were scaled back this year. In some cities, gatherings of more than several people were not permitted and many state officials across the land encouraged people to stay home and celebrate privately. Even with these strong suggestions in place, more than 1 million people passed through TSA security checkpoints to board a plane and visit friends or family.
Several of our friends were alone for the holiday and other dear friends held their festivities behind plexiglass in the garage where they could be properly socially distanced from their guests. It all seems to be centered around how safe people feel and what precautions they are taking to remain as safe as possible during this difficult time. I even know of one family that socially quarantined for the past two weeks and when they got together today, they ate in separate rooms to be as safe as possible.
As I look back on this year, there are still many things to be grateful for. Yes, even in the midst of political unrest, transitions of power and authority to different leadership and the ups and downs of the market, God has still bestowed many beautiful blessings on us this year. Not all of them are readily apparent, however.
As we have sometimes done at the dinner table on Thanksgiving, we went around the table tonight and each person discussed something that they were thankful for this year. There were the typical expectations of people being appreciative of one another, for good health, new jobs, making the basketball team, acceptance into college and many other readily identifiable blessings.
Janet always figures prominently in these discussions. She is the matriarch of the family and the one people go to when they want a hug or need a kind word. I, on the other hand, am the one that family members come to when they need something fixed or have a problem that they need solved. So it was great to witness the things that everyone was grateful for this year.
When I look back on this year, as tough as it has been, there have been many blessings. Greatest among them is the fact that I was able to be with my brothers as Ken, our youngest brother, passed away on February 29th. As much as I dreaded the event, there was something incredibly special about the three of us being together at such an important time. And as I prayed for Ken, the presence of God was palpable and I had assurance that Ken entered heaven as we sat with him. If he had lived another two weeks, the hospital would have been shut down and Doug and I wouldn’t have been able to be with Ken during his final time on earth. I am eternally thankful for the gift of being there – even if it seems to be something strange to be thankful for.
Doug and I are now all that are left of our nuclear family. Mom, Dad and Ken are all gone now and as I sat at the Thanksgiving table tonight it once again hit me that Janet and I represent the oldest generation and we now occupy the space that Grandma and Grandpa held when I was a youngster. Through it all, God has been faithful to us and our family; and our faith remains strong and unshaken.
Now, we approach the season of Advent and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Like Thanksgiving, this coming season is a time to be thankful for God revealing His Son to us as a baby in a manger.
As we remember the things that we are appreciative of this year, even in the midst of all the problems we may have, our verse for tonight reminds us that God’s kingdom is steadfast and can not be shaken. The author of Hebrews tells us, in Hebrews 12:28, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe…”
My encouragement tonight is that God blesses His children and there are always things to be grateful for, even when things look dark. My prayer is that we will always take time to be thankful, not just on this special day, and remember that the greatest gift of all is right around the corner in December. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…