Can we really be thankful for 2020?

November 24


Dear Friends,

Is this Thanksgiving a difficult one for you and your family?

Have you been personally impacted by COVID-19, lost a family member, wondered if your job, business or ministry will survive, how and where your child or grandchild will continue school, or how our nation will weather the challenges that appear to be before us – even as recounts, legal challenges and runoffs continue in this year’s election?

Have you wondered where God has been this year, and if you can truly be thankful this Thanksgiving?

As I reflect on this year, I have been stretched beyond what I could possibly have imagined, including the loss of my beloved father. I have also witnessed and heard of others’ suffering – more than at any point previously in my life.  Without a doubt, it has been a hard year.

We’ve probably all heard at least one person say, “I can’t wait for 2020 to be over.” I can certainly relate, and hope 2021 will be a “better year.”

But in thinking about Thanksgiving this year, and about what 2021 may hold for us as believers, I’ve realized a few things the Lord has been impressing on my heart this year, that might just be an encouragement for you, too.

First, to be thankful for the time we have, being mindful of not wishing time away because this year has been difficult. We aren’t promised tomorrow, nor do we know what tomorrow will bring. Yet, we know the One who holds the future in the palm of His hand, and has told us not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34).

I’m also cherishing the blessings of the present more. During my dad’s illness, that meant enjoying as many beautiful Colorado afternoons together as possible, and special visits from close friends and family. For others, that might be a birthday, anniversary, promotion, graduation, wedding or birth. If we don’t know how many tomorrows we have – or what those tomorrows will bring – we should live fully in each moment, thankful for each breath and time with those we love.

Second, to be thankful that difficulty brings the Lord’s graciousness into greater focus. So many times, I’ve known in a general way that the Lord is working in my life or in circumstances around me. But in 2020, there’s been nothing vague about it. I’ve experienced miracles I doubt I would have seen or marveled over if things hadn’t been so challenging. But miracles that I know are gifts from my Heavenly Father (Romans 8:28, James 1:17).

Third, to be thankful for His presence. This year, the two qualities that have struck me most about our Lord are His goodness and His faithfulness. And those have become more apparent to me because I have felt His presence in a new and incredibly precious way. If 2021 is a “better year,” I pray I never lose sight of 2020 and who God has shown Himself to be – and that I must continually draw near to Him (James 4:8).

And even as I write these words for Thanksgiving, I’m also thinking about the beginning of Advent in a few days – and how the long wait for Immanuel, who is “God with us,” takes on even greater significance this year.

Finally, a few of my favorite verses come to mind from Psalm 27, written by David – who certainly experienced many a difficult year both before and after he became king of Israel. In verses 13 and 14, he declares: “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

And that’s my prayer for you and our nation this Thanksgiving, that we will be confident and strong in the Lord, taking heart, waiting for Him—and thankful for His presence with us, which is more than enough. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

From my heart to yours,

Sonja Swiatkiewicz
Family Policy Alliance