Families around the nation will gather this week to celebrate Thanksgiving, a day that's intended for us to reflect and be reminded of the unmeasured blessings poured out upon us by a gracious and loving God. This year has been challenging for Oklahomans due to the tornadoes in May. Yet despite our circumstances, we continue to be thankful.
We are thankful because we live in a country of citizens who help one another when there's a need. When the eyes of the nation were on Oklahoma after the tornadoes, countless thousands of people from near and far answered the call to help. Millions of dollars were donated, homes were opened for displaced families and people rallied to be a source of support for the hurting.
We're thankful because we've emerged even stronger since the tragedy, as many have found strength through serving. Just weeks after the tornadoes, the Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief Team, which was at the center of the relief efforts, found our neighbors in need. Colorado was affected by wildfires and more recently floods; our volunteers stepped forward to serve there, showing that Oklahoma is characterized by generosity and service.
We're thankful that in the wake of natural disaster, Oklahoma's economy is still thriving. Our unemployment rate continues to be lower than the national average, and our housing values and gross domestic product have increased. In a time of national economic uncertainty, it's a tremendous blessing to live in a continually growing and developing state.
We are thankful, though, for more than material blessings. We're thankful for freedom of religion. Southern Baptists are united in their desire to show faith through service, especially in the greatest hours of need. America has been blessed to have the gift of religious liberty; within that cherished liberty, we're compelled toward action.
We're thankful for all who serve, especially the men and women of the U.S. armed forces. Oklahomans are keenly aware of the sacrifices made by these service members and their families. We are so deeply thankful for those who have paid the ultimate price to preserve the freedoms that we hold so dear.
While this year has challenged Oklahoma, we've emerged stronger, thanks to our sovereign God, the generous people of this country and the resilient and hopeful citizens of this state. I pray that each person reading this takes time to reflect on the things for which they are thankful and how much we all have to look forward to in the coming year.
Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.