NOTE: This is a reprint of a post from the Kris Vallotton's website. Kris is a member on staff at Bethel Church in Redding, California. I share his posts here because I am always amazed at the insights the Lord gives him.
Probably like you, I have been exposed to all kinds of information this year that can be, well, . . . pretty disheartening to the soul. 2020 was supposed to be the year where everything was going to come together. After all, it was the beginning of a new decade, laced with thoughts of all the great things that I was going to experience and accomplish in this stage of my life.
Then Covid struck and fear flooded the nations like a locomotive out of control, causing chaos at every bend. To make matters worse, we had no idea that the virus was going to last so long. In fact, I remember thinking that surely it would pass by summer, only to have summer end and now here we are, months later, still dealing with an escalated outbreak that seems to be setting new records every week.
I am normally a very positive person. In fact, Kris says I can always find the best in every situation, and for the most part, that’s a true statement. But by week three of the pandemic, I noticed that even I, the optimistic Kathy Vallotton, was becoming frightened by the thoughts that were pressing on my mind. I was feeling out of control, helpless and desperate in the situation. The media certainly wasn’t helping me out; they dramatize every Covid-19 statistical count, which fed my imagination that was already fat with fear.
I finally convinced myself that I needed to get my eyes off my surroundings and get them back on Jesus; the Foundation of my faith. Somehow, I had jumped tracks and ended up on the fear express…and I don’t think I was the only one on the train. I reflected on the scripture in Hebrews which says, “…let us lay aside every weight and sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus focused on the joy set before Him, instead of the cross in front of Him. What a profound statement. It hit me square in the face! In the midst of all the amazing things 2020 was bringing to us, I got stuck focusing on our troubles. Yes, we are in the midst of a pandemic, but God has given us the ability to choose which thoughts we are going to dwell on.
In fact, the Bible tells us what to meditate on! In Philippians 4:8, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.”
One day I decided that I had enough of stinking thinking! I vowed to God that I would find something to be thankful for each day. I began writing a thankful list that grew longer by the day. As I gave thanks, I felt like a heavy metal lid was lifted off my head.
Suddenly I became aware that good things were happening all around me but the pandemic had blinded me to them. In fact, I realized that 2020 was one of the most awesome years of my life.
Here is a list of a few highlights that happened in this year! I am so thankful for them.
1. Our 10th grandchild, “Edie”, was born!
8. Our kids bought a house just a few doors down from us.
The list goes on and on! The Lord has done so much in our lives this year…it’s stunning!
Any one thing on this list would be something worth celebrating, and I have been blessed with them all. Yes, it’s true, stuff happens in life, and I am so sorry for the hardships that some of you are going through.
Yet thankfulness is a choice that we can make, even in the hardest seasons of our lives. Furthermore, breakthrough begins when we focus on the voice of God and not on our situations or circumstances. I have learned this year that I can’t trust my own feelings, but I can trust Jesus’ word in my life.
Another thing that has really helped me cultivate a thankful heart in the midst of this chaos is a tradition that we started in our home over a year ago, which we call “Family Dinner.” Most Sundays after church, all of our family comes to our house, (if they are able), and we just have a meal and hang out together. The conversation is always lively and fun as we encourage each other (and of course it wouldn’t be a Vallotton dinner without bantering and sarcasm). I only wished that we would have started the tradition earlier in our life. We rarely cancel Family Dinners, but when we do, it’s the grandkids who complain the most! They’re like, “You’re kidding, Grandma! It is the highlight of my week!” Personally, I think they are just trying to get a free meal! LOL
During this Thanksgiving season, I encourage you to take a moment each night before you doze off to sleep, to thank Jesus for the ways He has touched your life and those around you.
Just remember, that in the midst of everything going on around you, “He’s got this, too!”
Oh, and by the way, I just googled the weather in Redding for Thanksgiving Day – 60 degrees with plenty of sunshine. I think a horseback ride is in order with my daughter. Just one more reason to be thankful!
I don't necessarily endorse all content from this site but it's always good to get different perspectives. http://www.krisvallotton.com/what-i-realized-when-i-began-to-give-thanks-guest-post-by-kathy-vallotton