By Frank Moore, Church of the Nazarene General Editor

I think everyone in our global Nazarene family would agree that 2020 has been a year that none of us will ever forget. It never occurred to me that a day would come when I would be unable to find paper products, cleaning supplies, or disinfectant wipes at any store in town. Until this year, I never went to our local grocery store to see aisle after aisle of shelves completely empty. You never would have convinced me that the day would come when I would drive 40 miles to locate face masks for my wife and me. I took our packed Sunday school classroom for granted until we were told we could no longer meet together in person for Sunday school or worship.

My minor frustrations pale in comparison to what many have suffered. Millions of people have lost family members and loved ones to the global pandemic. Millions more have experienced disruptions to their employment, leaving them searching for basic life necessities like food, clothing, and shelter. Only time will tell the long-term effects of this medical catastrophe.

This season of thanks offers an opportunity for us to reconsider our list of blessings. Many have a renewed appreciation for simple things, like health, family, and employment. The events of this year remind us of the value of thanksgiving when times are plentiful as well as when we experience trying circumstances.

Most Christians have read Paul’s words in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

This is an amazing message considering that Paul wrote these words during extremely difficult circumstances in his personal life. He wrote to the church at Philippi from the prison where he was locked away for preaching the gospel message to Gentiles like me. He may have been shackled to a prison guard as his life hung in the balance. He never knew the day or time when he would surrender his life for his commitment to Jesus Christ. Few of his friends and acquaintances came to visit him in prison while he awaited his execution. We believe he died as a martyr for the Christian faith shortly after completing this letter.

Paul did not focus attention on himself, however. He encouraged believers in local churches where the gospel message flourished; his encouraging words reach out to us in 2020. Here are some of his admonitions:

  1. Do not be anxious or worry about the situation in which you currently find yourself.
  2. Take your specific needs to the Lord in prayer.
  3. Season your prayers with an attitude of thanksgiving for God’s continued blessings in your life.
  4. Receive the peace of heart and mind God will give you as you trust completely in Him.
  5. Don’t be surprised if God’s peace calms the anxiety and stress you feel during these uncertain times.
  6. God’s peace will stand guard over your heart and mind as you lean on Him.
  7. Never forget that you live your life on earth and have your identity “in Christ Jesus.”

I am thankful for the multitude of blessings on my life and family. I’m most thankful that the peace of God stands guard over me daily as I find my identity in Christ Jesus my Savior!