Thankful In 2020 (God Is My God)

 

Grassy meadow with light snow cover and Oak trees bearing orange and yellow leaves and Half Dome in the background at Yosemite National Park


2020 has been a year of change, difficulty, loss, and unrest. Thankfulness is not in that list, but we are thankful – we try to be, anyway – because God is our God.

This post is an auto-biographical review of the last several months and I express my gratitude for our God who never withholds His favor towards His people. It’s easy to trudge along and overlook Thanksgiving, but Thanksgiving is always worth a pause.

Will you join me in giving thanks to our loving God?

 

When COVID-19 hit hard, our IT team hurried to make working at home a reality for our busy public health department. We did it. We deployed significant successes. Though some employees still go to the office, we’ve become very capable in our homes. Many of us have different stories with financial hardship and loss. But God is our God. He favors us even when life is hard to bear.

Thank you, Lord, for providing for my family and for meeting our every need. Thank you especially for nurturing us as we grow in different ways, and for meeting our mental and spiritual needs, which are a priority these days.

  

My family is safe and well. We have one graduating from college next week who has been working part time in his field of study. Our oldest got married. We enjoyed a small, backyard wedding and I was honored to officiate. I’m not a pastor, so this is something I’d never dreamed of doing until late last year. But what an honor. Everything I spoke was crafted within my own heart with God’s help. We welcomed a woman who loves Jesus into our family and she makes memories with us.

Thank you, Father, for being a God who cares about family. Thank you for moments we can celebrate and cherish. Thank you for knitting us together and extending our family tree with branches that spread and declare your truth and sovereignty to more and more social circles, even during a pandemic.

 

Our church doors remain closed, but we learned to worship online – on the screens in our home – but our hearts never skipped a beat. We found an amazing weekly Sunday School way across the country for our youngest. There was nothing for him on our church's website, but a perfect door opened for him. The church across the country eventually reopened and stopped their weekly streams, so he began listening to sermons by a very practical and biblically sound pastor.

My wife and I knew God would move us to a different local church someday, and that day came during these unusual times when we couldn’t even step foot in a church building. We recognized the amazing opportunity to virtually visit other churches because their Sunday services were available online. We discovered teaching that we truly appreciate, and connection and fellowship during Zoom meetings. While we sheltered in place, God opened the doors for us to settle into our new home church.

God’s church was not shut down. On the contrary, it became abundantly larger for our family as we found the teachers and community God had been preparing for us – for our youngest, and for our family.

Thank you, Jesus, the Living Word, for pastors and fellow Christians who are committed to teaching your truth comprehensively and lovingly, with a priority on personal application. Thank you for teachers who understand that we need deep Bible teaching and exhortation to live as you expect us to live. Thank you for brothers and sisters who care about genuine connection and who thrive in true fellowship; who feed the body of believers because it matters and because it helps us to be more effective in furthering your gospel and making disciples on earth.

 

Along with the move to a new local church, we are transitioning into a small group and out of the one we used to lead at our former church. By December we will have completed this transition and our old small group will continue with new leaders. They had been involved in leading for quite a while already, so this was an easy transition.

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for gifting us to minister within the body of believers and for brothers and sisters who are willing to serve and make sacrifices for you. Thank you that we are not expressly dependent on each other, but instead we’re dependent on you who surely selects people to fill the gaps that we create as we transition from one ministry to the next. Thank you that you fill the needs as we trust in you.

 

Since we are almost always at home, we moved ahead with major home improvement projects that had been on our list for some time and are now done. But during the past few of months, we’ve had to do a lot of planning, prep work, and staging. This work was sometimes continuous and back-breaking, but everything worked out.

Thank you, almighty God, that you make all things possible. Thank you for providing this unique opportunity to implement home improvements, and for directing us to terrific and trustworthy contractors. Thank you for providing them with paid work through your generosity towards us. Thank you for fitting the work into our calendars without conflict and in ways that worked to our benefit. And thank you for a friend who was available to help if we needed.

 

But, looking back nationally and globally, 2020 came with loss and tragedy. In many ways, we can say it has not been a good year. It’s certainly a year like none other, at least in my lifetime. But somehow there’s a reason for the hardship. Multiple reasons, really, because God is an intricate designer. Many stories of many people are interwoven in God’s grand plan, just like they were in the volumes of Bible stories and people God touched through the centuries. My youngest has grown fond of Francis Chan. He listens to his sermons week after week while the church doors remain closed in our area. Francis typically refers to multiple Bible stories and passages when he preaches. He understands that every chapter and verse is integrated into a greater story. 2020 is like this. Many stories. Many troubles and heartaches. Much loss, yet many victories. God weaves a complex tapestry and we don’t see or understand it completely, but we can keep it simple as we come to God with thanksgiving.

Thank you, God, the Author and Perfecter of our faith and the sovereign, infinite God of the universe, for weaving the fabric of our lives into our character and experiences. Thank you for good times as well as difficult, because we know you shape our lives for your purposes, and your purposes are good. They’re always good, though we may not often understand them.

Thank you, God. You are worthy of praise.

  

Image at Yosemite of a shadowy, snow covered meadow against a dark hillside with dark remnants of a fallen tree. Words on the picture say Favor: Even when days grow dark, God blesses us with His favor. Thank you, God Almighty, for being our God. Psalm 5:11-12, Psalm 18:16-20, Psalm 30:1-5


If you want to understand more about the loving, almighty God of the universe and how to have a relationship with His Son, Jesus, please email me at authordlv@att.net. We can be thankful, even is the most difficult of times, when God is our God.

Read more blog posts here.

Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing all the blessings of how the Lord came through for you this year, how he moved you to a new church, and how your family has prospered and grown. God bless you, Stephen! And a blessed and happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

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    1. Thank you, Melinda. Our God is good. Even in difficulty, we can be thankful because He is with us and works on our behalf. I hope your Thanksgiving weekend is a blessing to you and your family.

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  2. I loved this! Many congrats on your new daughter-in-law. And I'm so glad to know your youngest likes Francis Chan. I REALLY like him, too!! I'm grateful to have your friendship and so grateful for all the blessings God brings.

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    1. Thank you, Jessica. 2020 flew by so quickly for us. I'm glad I took a moment to reflect on it. I appreciate your friendship, too. Francis Chan is the real deal. As he understands more about God and the things that matter to Him, he adapts. Truly inspiring.

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  3. There is so much we take for granted. Every breath from God is a sign of His grace and favor. Thank you for reminding us to be grateful.

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    1. Yes, Joshua. It's so easy to ignore God's hand in our lives and to take His goodness for granted.

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  4. Times change. Sorrows come. Our hearts break. Yet...in the midst of our pain, God is forever faithful in His love and mercy. I am thankful for Him.

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    1. Yes, amen. And our next days have promise - the forever promises of God.

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  5. We do take so much for granted. This has become ever more clear for me this year. Thanks for sharing all the ways you were still founds ways to be thankful. You are a great inspiration. Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving

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    1. God is always good, isn't He. It's easy to lose sight of that, especially when things don't go our way or in the face of gloom. But He is here with us.

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  6. Thank you for the way you summarized each facet of the year with a prayer of gratitude. A good example for me today.

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    1. This doesn't necessarily come natural for me so it was a good exercise for me too. There's always room for more gratitude.

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  7. Stephen, thank you for honestly addressing the hardships we have faced this year, and yet offsetting the sorrow and disappointment by framing it within God's ongoing blessings and provisions. This is my goal, to do as you have done here. Not glossing over the pain and difficulties, but seeing it all through the lens of God's grace and love. Blessings to you and your family in the year ahead!

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    1. Thank you, Melissa, and blessings to you as well. God is gracious and remains at our side. In the good and the difficult, we can remain thankful for His goodness and sovereign control.

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  8. Yes, 2020 will be a year to remember. But through the tears there are blessings. What a lesson for us to keep our eyes on our Father. There is much to be thankful for.

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    1. Yes, Lorrie. Many things can distract us, but our focus is what makes the difference. God is always here with us. Thank you for visiting.

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  9. Stephen, it sounds like you and your family have had quite a year. We've definitely seen some highs and lows within our family this year. I'm thankful God has been in every single second of it.

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    1. I'm glad you have recognized God in the highs and lows, Jeanne. He is certainly with us and working on behalf of us who seek and honor Him with humility. Praise Him for that.

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  10. God is good all the time! And He is in control, even of this virus situation. It could not have happened if He hadn't allowed Satan to bring it on. Like you say, 2020 is a different year. It has definitely brought on some cabin fever because of essential travel only.
    So glad God blessed you with a new daughter-in-law and finding a new church. God is still in control, sometimes we have to be patient which isn't always easy for us humans.
    Thank you for sharing you 2020 and wishing you a blessed Christmas season. Blessings, Elfriede

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    1. Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts and encouragement, Elfriede. God is undoubtedly in control, all-powerful, and sovereign. No part of 2020 took God by surprise and He maintains complete authority. Blessings to you and yours this Christmas season.

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