I want to encourage you to do something out of the mainstream this Thanksgiving. No, it’s nothing too radical. I am thinking of something like swimming against the current of a river of negativity.

This Thanksgiving, my hope is that we can buck the status quo and look at the positive things that are happening in the world and give thanks to HaShem for the goodness around us.

The norm right now is to see 2020 as a dreadful year. COVID-19, racial tensions, political tensions, economic tensions, and so many other things have made this a year filled with stress. As followers of Yeshua, it is important that we maintain a sense of hope as the darkness surrounds us.

Paul instructed the Thessalonians to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in [Messiah Yeshua] for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Paul wrote these words to a community that was facing many challenges. Nonetheless, he wanted the Thessalonians to remember that God’s will for them was to remain thankful because they were in “Messiah Yeshua.”

Despite the negative circumstances of 2020, as followers of Yeshua, we have hope for the future. But even now, we can look around, observe God’s goodness, and give thanks. Here are a few things I am thankful for this year.

1. The importance of community has been highlighted this year.

Quarantines, periods of isolation, and distancing has underscored the importance of community. I have frequently been asked how our Torah Clubs are doing in response to the pandemic. I am grateful that we have seen growth in Torah Club this year. We are confident that this is due in large part to the fact that people are longing for community, and Torah Club allows small groups to gather (when it is safe to do so) for shared learning. Many Torah Clubs have also maintained a sense of community through virtual meetings. 2020 has highlighted that community is essential for the followers of Yeshua.

2. New ways of looking at the world, some of which are indeed positive.

It has been said many times this year that “the world will never be the same” in response to earth-shaking events such as the racial tensions and the pandemic. There are things that have changed that we will miss. But there are also new ways of doing things that are good.

While it is tragic that many businesses have failed in 2020, others have exercised creativity to figure out how to do new things to better serve their communities. In Torah Club, we have expanded our virtual options in ways we did not expect to. We have had to be creative and stretch ourselves. This has been a good exercise in faith for our team and the entire Torah Club family.

3. New life.

Many loved ones have been lost this year. Some died due to COVID-19 and others from different causes. This has generated much pain in 2020. But we have also welcomed some wonderful new lives into the world.

I am grateful that several of my closest friends (and colleagues), Boaz, Daniel, and Damian, all welcomed grandchildren into the world this year. Just a few weeks ago, Damian and his wife, Kelli, became grandparents for the first time! The joy that my friends have experienced this year is something to celebrate and be thankful for.

As followers of Yeshua, we have hope for the future. As Paul also wrote to the Thessalonians, our Lord Yeshua is coming (1 Thessalonians 5:23). There is also plenty of good surrounding us, even now, if we will stop to count those things.

This Thanksgiving, let’s swim against the current! True, it has been a tough year. There have been many tears, and anxieties have been high. Let’s resist the status quo and choose to see the good ahead of us and around us.