Only two months to go in 2020. Because of the COVID-19, as well as election, pandemics, I’ve heard folks say, “Good riddance, 2020.” Is it a good idea to make that hasty response?

As I get older, I’m more and more thankful for every day I have here on this earth, the good days as well as the bad. If our life goal is to be more and more like Jesus in this life, then it takes ALL of life’s experiences working together to make us so (Romans 8:28-29). There is one stipulation, however: to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind! In fact, if we spend all our thoughts, words, and actions on loving God, there will be no time left to fuss and fume with others or over the problems of this world.

We are living in difficult times, and yes, it is hard to be thankful when things don’t go like we had hoped. Nevertheless, if we understand that God is, indeed, working ALL things together for our good, our perspective on this life changes, dramatically. When we know He works through all the circumstances of our lives – the difficult, the bad, the good, or the sad – to produce the best for us, we can trust Him and “count it ALL joy” (James 1:2).

The short chorus, “Give Thanks” (Don Moen, 1986) was on my heart when I woke up this morning. It seems an appropriate song to sing during our end of year celebrations – whether we spend them alone or with family/friends. Even though the world around us may look chaotic and not at all as any of us would want:

Give thanks with a grateful heart, Give thanks to the Holy One,

Give thanks, because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son;

And now, let the weak say, “I am strong,”

Let the poor say, “I am rich,”

because of what the Lord has done for us;

…We give thanks!

A few years ago, I was caring for my three young grandchildren in New Orleans while their mom and dad were many miles away with their little sister. She was being treated for a rare form of cancer from which she did not survive. Every evening, as I prayed for each child and tucked them into bed, I asked them to tell me one thing for which they were thankful. We added to our list daily with the intent of reading our “thanksgivings” on Thanksgiving Day.

Though this was a dire situation for our family, I wanted to encourage the children (and myself) to focus on God’s gifts, large and small. I don’t recall what happened to that list, but I do know that making the list helped us keep a Christ-like perspective during the holidays that year and over those difficult months to follow.

An attitude of gratitude can bring light and hope to our gloomiest reality. I challenge you to make a list of all you should be thankful for as we celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, and New Year’s Day.