Give Thanks for 2020. WHAT?!

Steve Sabol

December 7, 2020

Just over a week ago, we celebrated Thanksgiving. To be truthful, I have enjoyed Thanksgivings as much if not a little more than Christmases over the years. The great food, smells, sounds and family interaction make it a stand out holiday for me. Cold turkey sandwiches are an awesome bonus.

This Thanksgiving I reflected a lot on the past year and what I had to be thankful for. It took more effort than usual this year to come up with specifics. Here’s what God has been saying to me about 2020.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV) says, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” We find it is easy to thank God when everything is going well. It’s not so easy to thank God when everything goes wrong.

Reflecting on the craziness of 2020 can make it hard to be thankful. Yet the Bible clearly teaches us that we are to be thankful, even when we go through tough times. Reflecting on that concept, I came up with some good reasons why we should be thanking Him for 2020.

God used adversity to get our attention in 2020.

In Acts 9 we read of Saul of Tarsus, later known as the apostle Paul, who was proud and egotistical, seeking to rid the world of Christians. God had to get Saul’s attention. To do so God struck Saul blind with a bright light. Lying on the Damascus Road, Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord? and “Lord, what would you have me to do?” (Acts 9:5-6)

Is God the number one priority in your life? Is He truly First? If not, He just may allow you to sink low in order to encourage you look up.

We can safely assume that every time we are going through a major trial, God is trying to get our attention in some way. Troubles are a tool God frequently uses to get our attention and to accomplish His purposes in our lives.

When we go through trials, we are forced to turn from trusting in our own resources to looking to God for deliverance. They prompt us to turn to God and cry out to Him when we don’t see light at the end of the tunnel. Like King David in the Bible, we cry, “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills where my help comes from. My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).

God used adversity to draw us closer to Him in 2020.

God wants us to walk with Him in close fellowship. But too often, we can start to take Him for granted, like a faithful spouse, especially when things are going well and we feel that we are in full control. Therefore, He may send some storms into our lives to rattle our world so that we might run for shelter in Him.

Someone has said, “In the day of prosperity we have many refuges to resort to. In the day of adversity, we have only One.” Our God is an ever-present help and a shelter in adversity who waits for us to draw close to Him and to cast our cares upon him.

I know the Lord always makes a way for me. 2020, in many ways, has not been my greatest year. But I still grew closer to the Lord. So, thank you Lord for 2020.  

Your life may be a mess right now. But through it all, rejoice knowing that when you get through this, your character will be changed and you will learn to endure. You’ll know your Lord is with you. Don’t give up and let the devil win.

God used adversity to strengthen us in 2020.

God does not allow us to suffer in order to destroy us, but to chasten and strengthen us. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.”

Rene Rapin makes a brilliant statement when he says, “Our strength often increases in proportion to the obstacles which are imposed upon it.”

When adversity is ready to strike, God is ready to strengthen.

God used adversity to refine us in 2020.

King Solomon said in Proverbs 25:4, “If you burn away the impurities from silver, a sterling vessel will emerge from the fire.”

God wants us to realize there are consequences to our decisions and actions. He often uses adversity to show us what is in our hearts, to purify us.

A diamond began as just a lump of coal. The difference between a diamond and coal, though, is that the diamond has gone through long, hard, hot, and intense pressure. A diamond is formed by way of pressure, heat, and time. Scientists say that it takes 1,000 or more years for a diamond to form. During that time, it is going through intense heat, pressure, and difficulty.

There is a Chinese proverb which says, “A gem is not polished without rubbing, nor a man made perfect without trials.” My experience confirms to me that this is true.

God used adversity to make us a blessing to others in 2020.

God’s ultimate goal is not my comfort. His ultimate purpose is to save lost souls. The apostle Paul figured that out when he wrote in the Bible book of Philippians, chapter one and verse twelve, “I want you to know, dear ones, what has happened to me has not hindered, but helped my ministry of preaching the gospel, causing it to expand and spread to many people.”

During the pandemic and chaos of 2020 Lifeway Church has grown as people hungry for a hope and a future respond to the irresistible Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our online audience exploded as sheltering people searched for a message that would comfort and put things into perspective. I could be wrong, but I believe that we would not have grown as we have in 2020 had it not been for the incredible challenges that were thrown our way.

We never know what avenue God may use to make us a blessing to others. We are ordained of God to be a blessing to others even through times of adversity.

When we use our pain to bless others, we’ll find true healing in the experience.

So, when you consider all of the above, it starts to make sense why I say, GIVE THANKS FOR 2020!                                                                                  

About the Author: Steve Sabol

"Steve Sabol was born October 3rd, 1950 in Bristol, PA. He married Nancy Keller, the love of his life on July 12th, 1969. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2019. They have a son and a daughter, five granddaughters, and five great-grandchildren. Steve entered full-time pastoral ministry in August of 1980. He’s been a shepherd for over forty years. He moved to Lebanon thirty years ago and today serves as one of Lifeway Church’s community pastors. Steve has been a musician for over fifty years and his favorite instrument is the guitar. Ministering to men in prisons, churches, rescue missions and community centers has been a passion of Steve’s for over 12 years. He has spoken at over thirty men’s events across the country and sends out a daily inspirational email to over 6,000 men every day. He is currently writing a book titled “Connected” which should be available in the summer of 2020. Steve loves spending time with his bride, and staying busy for the King, changing the world one man at a time."

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