by Curtis Ramsey-Lucas for The Christian Citizen

Long ago there was a man imprisoned for his faith. Separated from his friends, he didn’t become bitter or angry. Cut off from his work, he didn’t lose hope or faith. Where others may have been unable to see beyond their immediate circumstance, he was able to see opportunity and seize it.

“What has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel,” he wrote, “so that it has become known throughout the imperial guard that my imprisonment is for Christ.” (Philippians 1:12-13)

Paul’s letter to the Philippians is known as his letter of joy. In this brief, four-chapter book, he uses the noun joy, “chara,” five times and the verb rejoice, “charein,” nine times. As he wrote it, Paul’s life hung in the balance. His release was not guaranteed, and the very real possibility of death stared him in the face. In the direst of circumstances, Paul wrote his most positive letter.

“I thank God every time I remember you,” Paul wrote. Likewise, I thank God for all those who faithfully read The Christian Citizen. In what has been the most difficult of years—amid the isolation and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic and social unrest sparked by deep-seated injustice and systemic racism—I thank God for the opportunity to spread the gospel through The Christian Citizen. I thank God that you keep coming back to the stories we are publishing, and that you share what we’re doing with friends and followers on social media.

In 2020, we published more articles than in any previous year. Meanwhile, we’ve been more consistent in publishing The Christian Citizen Weekly and producing new episodes of our Justice. Mercy. Faith. podcast. We’ve also worked with Judson Press to publish #InThisTogether:Ministry in Times of Crisis, a book that seeks to glean wisdom from the crises we are living through to help us navigate those that may yet come.

As different and potentially difficult as this Thanksgiving holiday may be, especially for those who have lost loved ones due to COVID-19, we aspire to live into the words of the Apostle Paul, rejoicing in the Lord always.

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with joy and rejoicing even as you may remain separated from family and friends. If you can connect over Zoom or some other video conferencing platform this Thanksgiving, take a few moments with your loved ones to consider the following:

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8).

Stay safe. Be well. Rejoice. The peace of God be with you now and always.

Curtis Ramsey-Lucas is editor of The Christian Citizen and The Christian Citizen Weekly and host of the Justice. Mercy. Faith podcast. His book #InThisTogether: Ministry in Times of Crisis is available from Judson Press.