This week in the U.S., we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day, a day set aside each year to gather with loved ones and friends to eat a traditional meal and share the many things for which we are thankful. But this year is 2020, a year that has become a recognized synonym for awful. By now, most of us have heard someone say, "That's so 2020," which means many of us, because of government restrictions, will not be travelling nor gathering together for a feast.
This year has been different. This year we have dealt with an international pandemic, job losses, business closings, cancellations of sports and entertainment of all kinds, an increase in depression, drug and alcohol usage, a rise in divorce and abuse and a spike in suicides. Add to this riots in our streets, the burning down of cities and an escalation of racial division. This year, we have had a record number of hurricanes accompanied by flooding, fires, earthquakes and other natural disasters. And as if that wasn't enough, Americans are in the midst of a contested presidential election further dividing our people.
2020 has been the most difficult year in my lifetime, which means it is also the time when it is most important for those of us who believe in the Bible to be thankful. It is at the most "2020" times we have to be the most vocal about how thankful we are. The whole world knows that it is easy to be thankful when everything is going well and blessings are pouring down like a waterfall. But if we want the world to see that we truly believe in G-D and that we truly believe His Word, then our 2020 Thanksgiving should be the loudest and boldest Thanksgiving we have ever had.
There are hundred of verses in the Bible that instruct us to be thankful. Below are just a few:
—1 Thessalonians 5:18 (TLV) says, "in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Messiah Yeshua."
—1 Chronicles 16:34 says, "Give thanks to Adonai for He is good, for His mercy endures forever."
—Psalm 95:1-2 says, "O come, let us sing for joy to Adonai. Let us shout for joy to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving. Let us shout joyfully to Him with songs."
In Judaism there is a prayer called the Shehekianu, which is said at the beginning of Holy Days and special occasions. The English translation is "Blessed are you O L-RD our G-D, King of the Universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this moment in time."
While the year 2020 has brought with it many kinds of tragic difficulties, it has also presented us with a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate our faith in G-D. For many of us, 2020 will be our "Red Sea" moment. It will be a time for each of us to look at the sea in front of us and the enemy behind loudly proclaim along with Moses:
"But Moses said to the people, 'Don't be afraid! Stand still, and see the salvation of Adonai, which He will perform for you today. You have seen the Egyptians today, but you will never see them again, ever! Adonai will fight for you, while you hold your peace'" (Ex. 14:13-14).
Even in the midst of 2020, we can be thankful because, as the song says, "We have read the back of the book, and we win!"
Eric Tokajer is the author of Overcoming Fearlessness, What If Everything You Were Taught About the Ten Commandments Was Wrong?, With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, #ManWisdom: With Eric Tokajer, Jesus Is to Christianity as Pasta Is to Italians and Galatians in Context.
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