It has been a common theme for months now. It has been repeated in Facebook memes, on late night television, even your friends joke about it – kind of.
What a horrible year 2020 has been.
Feels like 2020 is never going to end.
Hope next year will be better than this one.
I get it – I really do. This is the year of Covid-19, racial unrest, divisive politics, financial loss, loneliness, and uncertainty. But 2020 has been a good year too.
Today is Thanksgiving Day here in Canada and I am thankful. I know American Thanksgiving is awesome but I like that we celebrate ours during this harvest season when our trees shout loudest with beauty and colour. With apologies to friends from other places, Canada placed high (again) as one of the best countries in the world. I’m thankful for this amazing place I live.
I am thankful Cheryl and I moved from the suburbs to the country and are enjoying our home. Even better, she spoils me every day with her love and grace. Each of our children and grandchildren are doing well in spite of the complications around them. I had the honour of officiating the marriage of my son and his wife in the spring.
Socially, 2020 has been the year that brought us good practices like regular hand washing, sanitized shopping carts and designer face-masks. I love those dots on the floor that bring order to queues and I’m fine with plastic barriers between me and cashiers I don’t know. Maybe our flu statistics will go down now too.
This will be remembered as the year that close-talkers had to keep their distance and introverts had more time to themselves. And hopefully it will go down in history as the time when fast food restaurants began to repair soap dispensers and hand dryers in their washrooms.
It has been the year that normalized all kinds of ‘virtual’ activities: shopping, meetings, school, church, even meals.
Maybe one of the greatest benefits of 2020 is that it reminded us of the importance of being good. Amid the divisiveness exploding all around, there are still people among us who sacrifice themselves.
Our governments have responded to the needs of their citizens. Volunteers are finding new ways to serve and care for their communities. As food bank lines get longer, more sources of food are appearing. When hospital cases overload, medical workers are going above and beyond. Mental health professionals are providing additional support.
I will remember this year as the time that I seriously explored the roots of racism in our culture and in the church. It is the year that I witnessed ‘white privilege’ as a reality rather than just some sort of abstract, liberal idea. I am thankful for that.
This year I have continued my journey of faith and I have thought, prayed, investigated, and proven God in spite of the cultural carnage around me. I have also met more godly people who are smart and curious and hopeful and real.
“To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us—and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is grace, for it brings with us immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder, and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.” – Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude, (1956).
This has been a difficult year and it’s not even over yet. But I’ve had difficult years before (so have you) and this one isn’t so bad when I consider the alternatives. God is still God and I am still in those eternal hands.
So thanks, God. Thanks a lot.
“The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.” – from Lamentations 3, NLT