There are no two ways around it, 2020 has been a difficult year. The focus, for many, has been more on the negative than it has been on the positive.
That's not an accusation, just a statement of fact. It's hard to turn on the television, radio, or surf online without some reminder of what Covid-19 has done to families, the economy, our culture, our churches, etc. The divides in our nation over almost any topic seem to be getting wider and deeper instead of moving toward healing.
For Christians, we have longed for a movement of our country to call on God, to turn from ways that stand in opposition to His will, to be the Christian Nation that we know He wishes us to be. Yet we seemingly are met more and more with disappointment.
Then we come to November, and we look over the landscape of our lives and think about a day set for Thankfulness. A cynic would sneer and ask, "what do we have to be thankful about?". God knowing us and knowing that little cynic lives somewhere in each of us (for some he just lives a little closer to the surface) answered that very question for us.
"What? God talked about Thanksgiving?"
Well, sort of. Not the American version of turkey, dressing and cranberries (sprinkled with a healthy helping of football). But God had a lot to say about thanksgiving, even thanksgiving in the hard times!
Think about what happened when God led Joshua and the people across the Jordan as they moved into the promise land. God made a way for the Israelites to walk across on dry land, holding back the rushing waters. And when they had made it to the other side he instructed them to go and take 12 stones, one for each tribe, and to stack them up as a reminder of how God had brought them across the Jordan.
Why? Why would God have them make this monument? Simple, so they would remember something and be thankful. See God has never been one to hide things from us.
"In this life you will have trouble..." John 16:33
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." John 15:18-19
We are also reminded that God's ways are not our ways. Sometimes God wills things to happen that I don't like, that I don't agree with. But that's okay, I know I don't see the whole picture. I trust that even though I may not like where I am in the scope of the story, in the end I'm part of the happy ending.
That's why God had Joshua stack those stones. So that when I'm in the middle of the hard part. When the 'trouble' he talked about has knocked on my door, when the world is snarling like a pack of hungry wolves I can look back and remember that my God is faithful, that my God does care, that my God is able.
When we find ourselves in the middle of a 2020, we need to have a pile of rocks that reminds us of what God did for us in 2019, and 2009, and 1980. We need to look on the times God was there for us in ways we thought we'd never forget. Maybe those moments have gotten dusty and discarded, we've filed them away, let them slide to the back of our mind buried under a pile of bills and hurts and fears.
This Thanksgiving, take those memories out. Dust them off, stack them high, and talk about them with those you love the most. Give God glory for the times He has been your strong tower, for the times he has stood in the fire with you and brought you out the other side, for the times when you walked the valley and knew he was holding your hand. And be thankful, because even in the midst of 2020, political unrest, Covid-19, and a sea of uncertainty, the same God who gave you a mountain of stones to stack in the past has plans to give you boulders to add in the future!
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at FCCHP!