Did anyone else make the foolish claim 365 days ago, “2020 is my year!”? I had high hopes, and was on the right track in many ways. That is, until March 17.
It was a Tuesday and our ministry leaders had made the decision to transition approximately 700 employees into a remote workforce due to growing Covid-19 concerns. Needless to say it was a gargantuan task that our staff and IT crew in particular managed with excellence.
By Wednesday I had migrated home myself, setting up a makeshift work station next to our dining room table. No more access to the gym where I had worked hard for months to accomplish big goals. No more in-person collaboration with co-workers. And two small children at home to boot.
Rewind to the start of 2020 and I had received a nice gift bag from an unknown woman at my church that had a mason jar and thick stack of notecards in it. I was told it was a “gratitude jar” and that the goal was to write down something I was grateful for or a blessing each day of the year and then go back and look through them all at the end of the year.
“Aww, what a nice gift,” I exclaimed.
Face buried in my hands, I am ashamed to say I never once took out a notecard to pen my thankfulness. Not one piece of paper sits in that jar. In fact, as I look to the right of my desk at home on December 31, that jar still sits sadly in the gift bag on my floor.
The guilt is palpable.
Had I not had a single thankful thought in all of 2020? I had good intensions several times. Darn, it’s the end of January… I’ll start in February. A pandemic? Now? Maybe I should start recording things I’m thankful for. Gosh, I’m so thankful school is starting back up and my kids can go in person. I really should write this down to remember it.
And yet, there the bag sits just to the right of my desk. Empty, still.
Surely this year has taught me something. Probably a lot of somethings. But the truth is I could not be happier to bid 2020 good-bye like the uninvited guest that it was. I don’t know a soul alive who enjoys hard things. And this year was H.A.R.D. A good old-fashioned pruning in many ways.
In reality, I don’t believe we like to be pruned. So we avoid it. We want comfort; a life of ease, don’t we? Yet as Christians, we ought to always seek what it is God is trying to teach us. And He was definitely teaching me a LOT these last 12 months, like how to respond to each of our two little girls individually in a way they will appreciate and respond to.
Many of us were stretched technologically as business meetings and classroom discussions took place on a screen. But we overcame! I’d say a great majority of Americans were tested financially as many lost their jobs or hours were scaled back significantly. Making ends meet has not been easy, can I get an amen?
If you have children at home, your “long-suffering” as Paul describes it in the NT has been tested at levels you never imagined. Our ability to love and live peacefully has been held to the flames as we see friends and loved ones disagreeing and even lashing out at each other.
What has become of us? What will become of us as we turn the page to 2021?
What if we all created gratitude jars and actually committed to writing things down on those little pieces of paper this year, dropping them in that clear cylinder, and watched the blessings pile up?
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Philippians 4:11-12
I often think back to my colleague Bill Adams’ post on being a Contentovert. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so. It’s a gem. In light of that brilliant piece of writing, I wonder… can we, as Americans, as Christians, truly be content no matter what 2021 holds? How do we do that?
I think, perhaps, it starts with cultivating a heart of gratitude.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (emphasis added)
You can’t see me, but I’m reaching down and picking up that plain white gift bag that contains the soon to be used and filled mason jar. I’m committing to counting my blessings in 2021 and invite you to do the same. The very first thing I am writing down and placing in the jar right now is how thankful I am to be a part of an amazing community of Medi-Share members who support each other financially and prayerfully each and every month.
Perhaps if we all intentionally take time to show God our gratefulness, we’ll have less time to be bitter toward our circumstances and toward each other.
May God bless you abundantly in the New Year. Here’s to jars overflowing with His goodness!
What are you thankful for? Share in the comments!