I think we all can agree that 2020 has been a weird year. It has been universally hard with a COVID, political divides, differences in option on how to handle a pandemic, shutdowns, layoffs, canceled plans, loss, and on-top of that, our own struggles and heartaches we are walking through.
I feel like compared to most, I’ve gone through this year pretty unscathed but my income is 20% of what it was last year. I’ve grieved over changed plans and prayed over friends who were in the hospital. I’ve been hurt by others and shamed for what I believe in.
I know first hand how easy it is to give into the drama, the ache, the frustration of this year. To share memes about how 2020 should be a swear word, to long for the life we had pre-covid or wish away for a life once this is all over. To complain about how things are going, to live in fear of what this all means, and to answer text from friends with “I’m surviving.”
As we were talking about the upcoming holiday (Thanksgiving) last week, my dad mentioned the story from Luke when Jesus heals 10 lepers but only one comes back to thank Him. He was mentioning it in reference to this year and our hearts towards thankfulness and gratitude. It struck me and stuck with me so I went home and reread the passage a couple times over. If you don’t know the passage (or even if you do!) it is short enough to put the whole thing here:
On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”Luke 17:11-19
They all received the same gift. The all received a new, clean life. A life where they could hug people again and be part of community. Go back to family and loved ones. Work again, travel again, live again. But only ONE came back to praise the Lord. Only one acknowledged the blessing and where the gift had come from.
And you know what is even more shocking about this one? He was a Samaritan. Samaritan and Jews had a history of not getting along. We as readers are supposed to be shocked by this addition to the story. Just like we are with the Woman at the Well and the Good Samaritan. The praise came from someone you wouldn’t expect to be receptive or see the gift he had been given.
We are also tempted to continue trugging on past the blessings and the gifts in life (and 2020) only seeing and feeling our disappointment, rejection, lack, or fear. Tempted to receive gifts without acknowledging them or the giver and finding ourselves as one of the nine and not the one who came back to praise. But what if instead we chose to be the one who came back. The one who returns to give praise?
I’ll tell you what, if you go around rejoicing in today and giving thanks for 2020 people will look at you like you are crazy. They will call you blind or ignorant. They will question the hope you have (and be ready to give that answer for the hope you have in you! 1 Peter 3:15) But even in the hardest years and the weirdest times, God gives good gifts. In fact, His presence alone is enough. Salvation, hope, purpose, among those things and family, friends, loved ones.
2020 isn’t a wash year. It was a weird year for sure, but it doesn’t need to be erased or skipped over. Our sweet Millie was just one of the many blessings of 2020 and when we have eyes to see, we can give thanks in all circumstances.
Happy Thanksgiving dear ones!