Is it possible to be thankful in a worldwide pandemic? Many of us have felt the weight of additional stress and uncertainty in our daily lives. Whether we are conscious of it or not, these feelings can unknowingly pass on to family, friends, and co-workers as they sense our fear and feelings of worry. But in this season of Thanksgiving, what if rather than watching the national news or discussing headlines in the social media, what if we took time to be grateful for the little things in our life daily that make life worth living? What if we pause to appreciate the opportunity we’ve been granted to re-establish old traditions, start new traditions, recognize what’s truly valuable, and spend more time together?
Over the past few months, jigsaw puzzles, bikes, free weights, and board games have sold out of stores as people have taken time to work on personal fitness, create, and explore together. Rather than rushing off to baseball games and work meetings, we cooked dinner together, tried new dessert recipes, and enjoyed movie nights with our families. We’re coloring more, sprucing up our spaces, enjoying hobbies again, and developing new talents. In this season of COVID-19 we are taking more walks, reconnecting with our neighbors, and reading books. We’re learning how to use Zoom, FaceTime, and Facebook Live. We are figuring out how to maintain our close relationships while staying safely apart.
Gratitude helps us develop a spirit of grit that gets us through difficult times. Gratitude helps us to keep thinking rightly, to keep being positive and constructive when we’d rather just give in. Gratitude is choosing to be appreciative for what we receive, whether in easy times or in hard times. Gratitude acknowledges the goodness in our life and helps us to remember that every good thing we have comes from God. Gratitude helps keep us connected to our Lord Jesus Christ who journeys with us on the road leading toward Heaven. Gratitude reminds us of the importance of family cookouts, birthday parties, graduation events, school programs, weddings, and worship at church.
The Apostle Paul had a grit that kept him grateful and that kept him going in difficult times. What he did can help us, too. In Philippians 4:4-9 he writes: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Each night in November at dinner as you discuss the events of the day with family and friends, take a moment for each person at the table to share one aspect of the day he or she is grateful for. You will be surprised how much there is to be grateful for, even in the midst of a pandemic. And, who knows, maybe this will become a habit that stays with you even after this season is over.
Grateful even now,