Thanksgiving Lessons in 2020

What a year.

Coronavirus. According to Johns Hopkins, COVID-19 has now infected some 12 million Americans and claimed more than 250,000 lives. 

Race issues. Around the same time the coronavirus began spreading across the U.S., the death of George Floyd in Milwaukee triggered nationwide protests (some violent) over issues of race and policing practices. 

Hurricanes. A record 30 tropical storms produced 13 hurricanes in 2020 (so far—Hurricane Season won’t officially end for another week). Five of those storms took direct aim at Louisiana. 

Presidential election. A historically contentious presidential election left few people on either side feeling hopeful about our nation’s political system. 

Question: Can you remember a time in your life when so many people were so eager to put a year behind them?

And suddenly it’s Thanksgiving. What are we to do with this holiday when we’re not exactly gushing with gratitude? Some might even say that giving thanks is inappropriate or insensitive this year.

I say we need to give thanks more than ever. Here’s why.

Thanksgiving helps you to take inventory. There’s no shortage of strong emotions these days. We alternate between anxiety, uncertainty, resentment, and fear.

The problem is such strong, negative emotions can blind us to the positives in life.

National crises and personal difficulties have a way of overshadowing good things we might otherwise be thankful for. 

I believe Thanksgiving can do for us what good seasoning does to food. It brings out those flavors that are easy to miss…all the blessings that are so easy to overlook or take for granted.

Are you alive? Are you free? Can you name one person that loves you…or likes you? Do you have a job or the prospects for one?

I encourage you to take the Full-Page Thanksgiving Challenge. Get a full size sheet of lined paper. Write one thing on each line for which you are thankful. Don’t stop until you fill the page. Then pass on the challenge to someone else. You won’t be the same and neither will the person you challenge. 

Thanksgiving helps you upgrade your vision. Sometimes life is hard. In truth, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t experienced some measure of pain in this world. Especially this year. We have lost too many loved ones to the coronavirus. We’ve experienced too much division over race. We’ve raced to the bottom in our public, political discourse. 

But we simply cannot give in to fear, distrust, hopelessness or hate. 

The pilgrims at that first Thanksgiving feast knew a little something about hardship. They too had lost loved ones to disease. They had no assurance the next year’s harvest would come through. They were strangers in a strange land with anything but a certain future. 

What did they have? A strong faith in God. A deep love for one another. And the determination to create for themselves a life of possibilities. 

Don’t we have at least that much?

At the tail end of a hard year, let’s be thankful. Not as an act of denial but as an act of resistance. Let’s not give in to hopelessness. Let’s not give into fear.

2020, you’ve been tough on us. But take this… We’re thankful.

Not in spite of 2020. 

But especially in the midst of it.

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