This year has been very difficult for almost everyone. In my own case, at the beginning of the year, my own family suffered a very personal loss of a dearest loved one. I am not alone in that, I know, as many others have faced the same trials and have not even been allowed to put them to rest as a family. We have faced government supression of worship and people are now afraid of one another because the government and news media have stoked a unreasonable fear of a virus that has a ninety-nine percent survival rate. As lockdowns persist, depression and suicides are up and alcohol addiction has increased. We have faced killer hornets and a near collision with an astroid. Our political system is in an uproar, cities are burning and we may well be on the verge of another civil war. How can we be thankful in the light of all these calamities?
Each of us, if we examine our lives, will still find many things for which we can be thankful. We can be thankful for our portion of health. Do you have vision? Have you enjoyed a beautiful sunrise or sunset lately? Be thankful. Do you still hear? Have you heard a little, innocent child laugh or heard someone say “I love you?” Or have you heard a beautiful piece of music? Be thankful you have your hearing. Do you still enjoy good food? Did you enjoy a good Thanksgiving meal? Be thankful for taste. Do you have money in the bank? Be thankful? Do you have a family who cares about you? Be thankful. Do you miss someone very badly? Be thankful they were in your life and filled your life with love. On and on the list could go of simple things that are truly great blessings.
Yet life can be cruel. We all face trials. My trials may be different than yours but it is just as great a burden on me as yours is on you. Nevertheless, James tells us to count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations knowing that the trying of our faith worketh patience (James 1:3). In fact, Peter tells us we should rejoice that we are partakers of Christ’s sufferings (I Pet. 4:12). Early Chritians rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41). The Lord said they are blessed who are reviled for the name of Christ (Matt. 5:10-12). Jesus further said in the world we will have tribulation but that He had overcome the world (John 16:33). So can we because faith is the victory that overcomes the world (I John 5:4). No suffering now is even worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). We may sow in tears now, but we will reap in joy (Psalm 126:5).
No matter how bad it may seem, no matter how bad it actually is, there remains hope for the Christian (Rom. 8:20), a hope the world does not have (I Thess. 4:13). That, by itself, is plenty of reason to be thankful.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations (Psalm 100:4,5).
Eric L. Padgett