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Faith Focus: What will you be thankful for?

FRANKLIN LIVING—For many of us, Thanksgiving is at the top of the list of favorite holidays. What a blessing to have a day devoted to counting blessings, spending time with family, watching football and – of course – eating and eating and eating some more.

I do wonder, though, if counting blessings will be more of a challenge for many of us this year.

Scroll social media briefly and you will notice a resounding theme. According to many, 2020 cannot end soon enough! Undoubtedly, there has been much to lament and, in the eyes of many, much less to celebrate.

While the coronavirus has taken its toll on us in multiple ways, it should be noted that 2020 isn’t the first time Thanksgiving has been celebrated amidst challenging times, and it likely won’t be the last.

The celebration of Thanksgiving traces back to a custom that began in 1621 when Dutch settlers at Plymouth Plantation joined in giving thanks to God for their first harvest in this new land. Yet even then, gratitude to God was being expressed following a year of significant loss. Only half of the Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower survived to celebrate that first harvest, 50 of them having fallen victim to the hardships of that first winter. Even so, those remaining found a reason to be thankful.

As Bible readers, we know Philippians 4:6 reminds us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” We also know that’s God’s instruction to be grateful is intended for every day rather than for just for a single day.

While we might have to reflect more deeply to accurately count our blessings this year, I believe there is still much for which we can be thankful.

Those of us who have suffered loss can be grateful for our memories. The ability to remember the good times spent with loved ones is a blessing from God. Further, we can be grateful for the blessing of time. While we might not know how much we have left, every day is a gift from God, and he deserves to be thanked.

For those who were blessed to be “safer at home” for an extended period with family members, we can be thankful for having had the opportunity to spend that time with those we love most.

Finally, we must always remember our most important reason to be thankful to God: No pandemic or hardship can nullify the opportunity for salvation that Jesus and his sacrifice make possible for those who will follow him. As we sometimes sing, what a blessing it is to know that this world is not our home!

Philip Goad is the minister at North Highlands Church of Christ in Russellville. He is married to Marla, and they have a daughter, Kayla Thorne, who is married to Josh. They also have a son, Preston, and one grandchild, Greyson Thorne.