I spoke recently with someone who works for a major airline. She said that flight cancelations around Thanksgiving have been staggering. I talked to a woman whose local family members all have COVID-19 right now. So she plans to be alone on November 26.
In many ways, Thanksgiving won’t be the traditional gathering most of us are used to. For lots of people, it will make for a difficult holiday this year. But that doesn’t mean Thanksgiving is canceled.
God has allowed this virus to come. God has also allowed it to get to the point where people have to cancel family gatherings and holiday celebrations. Despite all that, however, there are still tremendous reasons for thanksgiving. Psalm 118’s encouragement is true regardless of our circumstance: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (verse 1). Sometimes God has us go through times of crisis, disappointment, and loss so we see the things we might otherwise quickly take for granted. And it leads to thanksgiving.
As I reflect on all the changes and the things I miss this year, I’m thinking of all the big and little things I don’t want to take for granted. Remembering them helps me say thanks to the God who gives big and little gifts—even when things are disappointing or drastically different. As I share a short sampling of my list, let it help you get started coming up with a list of your own.
- My family. What a gift from God! I don’t deserve any of them, but God loves me through them. He knows we’re not perfect, but he still fills our home with his goodness.
- Teachers. We’ve been doing more teaching at home for the times the kids couldn’t be in-person at school. Teachers’ jobs aren’t easy, but they’re so important. God blesses us and our kids through them.
- Health care. Could you imagine dealing with everything over the past months without hospitals, testing, and all the infrastructure ready to help when needed?
- Grilling. Because it’s the best way to cook—especially charcoal. It’s fun and makes food taste great every time. Thanks for making it that way, God.
- Jesus’ suffering. What he endured on this earth is infinitely worse than whatever COVID (or anything else) could bring. He faced the wrath of God and suffered hell trillions of times over on the cross. I never asked him to do that for me. He just did it. It was awful, but he wanted to. Because that was the only way for me to be right with God. What love! Thank you, Jesus.
- God’s acceptance. Because of Jesus, I am accepted into God’s family—right here, right now. Warts, failures, imperfections, and all. Because God sees me as he sees Jesus, amazingly, I’m good with God.
- The heavenly banquet. Better than the most delicious Thanksgiving feast with family and loved ones is the banquet waiting for all God’s children in heaven. No more COVID or anything bad. We’ll raise a glass together and make a toast to the Savior who did it all so we could be there. It’s going to be amazing!
And the list is just getting started.
Many of our plans have been canceled this year. But cancel Thanksgiving? No way! It might look different this year, but God is still good, and his love keeps enduring forever. Let’s be sure to give him thanks.