Choosing Thankfulness & Hope
If you were to ask me to use one word to describe the past seven months of this year, grateful would not be one of them. Yet, seven months in and still in the midst of so much uncertainty, it seems like the most appropriate word to use.
So much of the conversations i have had over the last few weeks to months have been about how much this year sucks. All the fun summer plans, canceled. And no one really knows for sure when life will resume to its pre-covid manner. We have become so use to constant movement, being still for this long has rocked our world, literally. I remember last year in 2019 telling one of my best friends that 2020 was already exhausting, because of the sheer number of events and places i had to go to and the plans i had to finalize. At that point, we weren't even close to the end of 2019, yet i was already exhausted. Fast forward to my present situation, sitting in my parent's house in New York with no plans for the month and i feel okay about it.
I am embarrassed to admit that it took a global pandemic for me to really fully understand what 1 Thessalonians 5:18 was talking about, " Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus". If you are like me that, "all circumstances" that Paul the author of 1 Thessalonians is talking about is usually the easy breezy days when there are minor tiffs and not the all-encompassing shitty, messy, confusing, depressing days or circumstances that we often feel are unfair and don't warrant any bit of a thankful perspective. We want to give thanks when we want, and not when we need to. This is a perspective i am trying to wrap my mind around, one i am constantly processing, even while i write this post.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 sounds great you might be thinking, who doesn't want to have a grateful heart? But how do you give thanks when your alone and desperate for companionship? How do you give thanks when you got laid off from your job? How do you give thanks when you feel unseen and heard? How do you give thanks when nothing seems to be going right? The answer can be found in John 16:33 where Jesus says, " I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world". I love this text because we read Jesus speaking directly to our circumstances a few times in this text. He acknowledges that we will have trouble and disturbances in our lives, he empathizes with our suffering by telling us to take heart, and he ultimately encourages us by reminding us that he has already remedied our circumstances by his death on the cross.
A thankful heart is born through a change of perspective. Can you and i push aside self-pity long enough to look at our circumstances differently? Can we find the hope that may lie in the midst of the discontentment and confusion. I don't know about you, but this is something i pray about daily and am trying my best to live in, hope. I like to think that hope and gratitude or thankfulness are best friends. You can't have one without the other, to be hopeful is to be thankful in the mess and in uncertainty. Hope is something we have to seek daily, it doesn't often carry over from the days, weeks or months before. The same goes for thankfulness, its staying power depends on daily application. I may not be where i want to be today, but i can still be thankful for how far i am. The future seems uncertain but i am thankful i serve a faithful God. I may be alone and lonely at times but i am thankful for family and friends who check in with me.
Today one of my dear friends post a meme on Instagram about Covid-19 not being apart of her 2020 vision board. It was a funny post and i definitely laughed, but i reminded her that even though we have so much to complain about right now, we should still expect God to be faithful, and we should still expect good to happen in our lives. 2020 may not our year, but i am choosing thankfulness and hope. I choose to believe that God is still faithful, i choose to be thankful in the midst of canceled plans and uncertainty. How can you apply the bible's model for thankfulness and hope to your life today?