November pauses us to reflect in thankfulness of the past year. Finding gratitude in 2020 seems few and far between in several ways.
The month has started with the anxiety and fears of a contested election. The pandemic has dredged forward with the tension of worry and frustration in our regular routines.
Yesterday, I received a text from my wife that said, “After playing school, Hayley said she needed to wipe down the classroom and brought over the antibacterial wipes.”
We love that Hayley has developed an extra awareness of cleanliness, but sadly we carry the reality of this pandemic and see somewhat loss of a routine childhood in this season. Like many parents, we find ourselves talking to her about masks, germs, washing hands, cleaning, and other practices more than we ever thought.
Not to mention, tomorrow, people cast the last votes for a tumultuous election. Several pundits have shared their concerns about a contested election. It seems that we have a long road for the necessary conversations.
Again, we find ourselves in November, searching for gratitude. Now more than ever, we need to acknowledge the areas where God has worked. This discipline slows us down enough to see how Jesus has sustained us and reminds us of the work we still have to do.
You will never fully grasp the challenges and opportunities of the future unless you have carefully reflected on the places that you can gratefully recognize the grace of Jesus in the darkest of times.
As we embark on this season, I wanted to share a few points of gratitude I have considered for 2020:
Re-Identifying the Role of Grief
It seemed like the world pre-pandemic tried running from grief. If 2020 has taught anything, a grief observed connects us more than dismissing it. We have grieved those we lost from the Coronavirus. We grieved the racial tensions that still exist. We grieved missed opportunities like graduations, weddings, and other special occasions.
I don’t advocate for pursuing grief, but I am grateful that we have re-identified it in our society. Our desire to say the right thing has been replaced with a compassionate presence. Grief connects us more with each other and ultimately helps us love each other deeply. To some degree, we all have grieved something in 2020. Will we continue to invite the grieving process to change us.
People who Faithfully Make a Difference Quietly
The crisis of 2020 has focused our attention on the bad news and problems. As I recount this year, I wonder how much we have missed the people who have quietly made a difference.
Barbara Thomas leads the Rochester Family Mission supporting families in need, especially providing for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Tracey Miller from the City of Rochester’s Mayor’s Office has brought together leaders on several issues, including serving our local schools in this unprecedented time. Chris Holdridge and 441 Ministries have impacted the Beechwood Neighborhood. Anna Valeria-Iseman and the Open Door Mission has ministered to many with addiction in our area.
The list could go on. Take a moment to look around you, and you will see individuals doing the grueling work of making your city and neighborhood better. Our gratitude must extend further than words, but showing up to support the great work of leaders like these.
The Re-Prioritizing of Our Time
To a certain degree, 2020 has invited us to slow our schedules down. We managed our way through a crisis and even working endless hours. Collectively, a pandemic causes us to re-prioritize our schedules. Perhaps, on the other side of this season, we might think twice about filling our calendar. The people we cherish the most get more of our undevoted time.
The Gospel Invading Our Hearts in New Ways
When everything seems to get taken away, you begin to see what’s left. 2020 has challenged us to see the good news of the gospel in new ways. It challenges our assumptions and the blind spots we have. It causes us to re-evaluate how we will live out loving our neighbors. We find out that we play terrible saviors when it comes to grasping control of our lives. Yes, Jesus can make good out of this dark season, but He walks us through valleys to change us.
I believe we will look back in twenty years to see Jesus’ transformation in our hearts. The power of the gospel then moved our thoughts, words, and actions to live out the good news in ways that we never had before. Maturity and growth are messy but always worth it.
What are you grateful for in 2020? Share in the comment section below.