Hebrews 13 says, “Therefore let us offer, through Jesus, a continual sacrifice of praise to God proclaiming our allegiance to his name.”
A little boy was asked to say the prayer before a meal. He looked at the dish then said, “Lord, I don’t like the looks of it, but I’ll thank you anyway.” The little boy’s impression may have been that he wanted to “accidently” feed the dish to the cat, but he was thankful. We may not like the looks of life, but we still have reasons to be thankful.
Not liking the looks of life may especially hold true in 2020. There is no escaping that it has been a rough year. COVID19 has caused much difficulty. Its grip has caused anxiety, unsettled routines, financial hardships, and even worse – the pain of loss. Couple this with the usual cast of life’s seasons, and it has been a historically hard year. The looks of it may not be that appetizing. The original recipients of Hebrews could understand our perspective.
Hebrews was written to a group of Christians facing persecution. They were being told everything they heard and believed about Jesus was false. They needed to revert back to the Old Testament ways of worship. Heavy pressure was being applied in an attempt to force the believers away from Christianity. Life did not look appetizing for these folks, so the writer wanted to encourage them.
There are many reasons, the writer concludes, believers can continually be thankful. Notice the word continual. Thankfulness is not designed for just the good-looking seasons of life. It is also for the times that do not look good. There are always reasons to be thankful, even in 2020. Here are just a few.
Jesus is always the same.
Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and forever.” He is changeless.
- The same Jesus who was with God the Father at creation is still with us.
- The same Jesus who danced in the flames of the fiery furnace is still with us today.
- The same Jesus who was willing to leave Heaven to help us is still helping us today.
- The same Jesus that conquered sin and overpowered death still has his power today.
- The same Jesus who was in control yesterday is still in control today, and he will be in control tomorrow.
Jesus is changeless. In an everchanging world, we can be thankful Jesus stays the same.
The Lord will not leave us.
No matter how bad things get the Lord will stay with us.
Hebrews 13:5-6 says, “For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’ So, we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” God will always be there.
This applies to the easy times in life, and to the times when life looks grim. Perhaps a good place to see this is in Acts 7.
In its infancy, the church endured harsh persecution, and Stephen was one of those early martyrs. Acts 7 tells us Stephen was stoned because of his faith. More than that, it shows us where Jesus was during the stoning. Verses 55-56 say, “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to Heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see Heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Jesus wasn’t absent during Stephen’s stoning. He was present and encouraging Stephen.
This was a terrible time in Stephen’s life, and the Lord was there. He wasn’t absent or idlily watching from a distance. The Lord was right there – standing, encouraging, cheering, helping. In what can easily be considered the darkest moment in Stephen’s life, he could have confidence in the Lord. The Lord didn’t abandon him; the Lord was there with him.
There is not a great chance we will be stoned, but life can have some terrible moments. We can be thankful the Lord is there. He is there to bandage our spiritual wounds. He is there to help wipe our tears and heal our heartaches. So, we can say with confidence, “I will not fear. The Lord is my helper. Thankfully, he is always there.”
This life is only temporary.
Hebrews 13:14 reminds us this is not our permanent home. We are awaiting a world that is yet to come.
This verse serves as encouragement for us. No matter our current situation, we can truly say it is only temporary as this is not our permanent home. The struggles and difficulties this life brings do not last forever. They give way to something much better. They give way to Heaven.
While we don’t fully know what Heaven will be like, the Bible does tell us it will be a glorious place. There will be no pain, sorrow, or difficulty. Today’s struggles will be gone. There will be no pandemics or tensions caused by skin color. There will be no hurt or heartache. Rather, Scripture says there will be peace. The lame will walk, the deaf will hear, the blind will see. Heaven will be glorious.
Struggling today? Remember, this is not our permanent home. We are awaiting one that will be far better. And for this, we can truly be thankful.
We have life.
Finally, we can be thankful we have life. It may become messy at times, but the Lord has granted us life. “I have come that you may have life,” Jesus says in John 10:10, “and have it to the full.”
Someone has said, “Even though I clutch my blankets and groan when the alarm goes off, thank you for a new day. Even though I try to block out the light, thank you Lord that the sun rises. Even though I dread it, thanks God that I have the privilege of getting out of bed. Even though my family gets on my nerves, I’m thankful you blessed me with them.” We can be thankful the Lord has given us life.
Why are you thankful in 2020?
Someone has said, “Giving thanks is too often demoted to a secondary place in the prayers of Christ’s people. We are quick to make our requests and slow to thank God for his answers, because God so often answers our prayers, we come to expect it. We forget that it is only by his grace that we receive anything from him.” Why are you thankful this year?
2020 will undoubtedly be recorded as a hard year in world history, yet there are reasons we can give thanks. The Lord has blessed us in many ways, and for that, I am truly thankful. Why are you thankful in 2020?
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