Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9, ESV
It’s almost Thanksgiving! Bring on the stuffing and mashed potatoes! And of course, the pumpkin pie – don’t forget whipped cream! And how about that turkey?? What a wonderful holiday filled with family, friends, food, and thanks. Thanksgiving is a longstanding favorite holiday of mine, making the “Top Three” list every year. It’s wonderful to share a meal with family and friends as each person talks about the things they are grateful for. But maybe for some of you, Thanksgiving is going to look a little different this year. Maybe the thought of celebrating just isn’t in your heart. For some of us, family gatherings aren’t a possibility, and being with the ones we love is not an option. With social distancing and COVID guidelines in place, celebrating this holiday will be a new and possibly lonely experience for the first time. In light of the circumstances, it may be hard for some to find things to be thankful for.
I want to assure you, friends, that if you are feeling this way, you are not alone. Furthermore, your feelings are understandable. It is right and good to mourn the loss of traditions, family gatherings, and celebrating with friends because of this virus. It is good to mourn the brokenness of this world, whatever that may be. But our grief and sadness point us to something greater. You see, God has placed in the heart of each of us the desire for something more than what we have here on earth. This is because He made us for something more – He made us to live in eternal paradise, in perfect fellowship with Him. Understanding that things are broken here reminds us that this world is not our forever home.
It is easy to let our feelings overwhelm us and to lose our hope and joy. While I believe that it is right to acknowledge the brokenness of this world, it is also right for us to look to Christ in the midst of these trying circumstances. Here, we find that our hope and joy can be restored because we DO have an eternal home with God in Heaven, thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus. Our verse today says, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (ESV) As Christians, our joy is not rooted in our circumstances, but in the knowledge that we have received the gift of salvation and are awaiting the return of our savior who will one day call us to our heavenly home with our loving father.
Brothers and sisters, I understand the pain and brokenness of this world. I know that some of you are hurting – please know that I hurt with you. But I also want to share with you the hope and joy that we have in Christ. These things we are dealing with now will not last forever. This place is not our forever home. Because of the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ, we have something to look forward to. We have joy that is founded on the promises of God who loves us and made a way for us to be with Him in eternity. If it seems like we don’t have much to be thankful for this year, remember all that we have in Christ. We have everything to be thankful for in Him.