2020 has been a challenging year for many people, largely because of the effects of COVID-19. We have all faced moments of frustration, doubt, anxiety, and fear. And the future outlook remains challenging. In the midst of challenging times like this, being thankful can be the furthest thing from our minds.
For followers of Jesus, our thankfulness and gratitude are rooted in something more than our circumstances or hardships. We read about how one early church was also facing difficulty. The apostle Paul was also facing the same realities as he writes to the church in Corinth, saying,
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
So death is at work in us, but life in you.
- 2 Corinthians 4:8–12
While we suffer and are pressed in this world, we can see the work of God in our midst; in our lives and in the lives of others. This growth of character and becoming more like Jesus is our cause for thankfulness. The sustaining power of God to help us endure and thrive fosters gratefulness to God.
We can call to mind the encouragement given to another church:
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.
- 2 Thessalonians 1:3
As the community of believers in Jesus, we are thankful on this weekend because of the abundantly growing faith of others and for the love that we share with each other. May our eyes be open to see these blessings and our hearts express deep gratitude to God who helps us persevere, grow in faith, and share in love with each other.