I admit, it’s really hard to be thankful during COVID. The coronavirus has disrupted a lot of things this year, even Thanksgiving. My wife and I, for example, had Thanksgiving plans with a couple who had invited us until they cancelled at the last minute due to a recent spike in cases in St. Louis. So now, my wife and I have had to scrounge around to celebrate Thanksgiving by ourselves. Nevertheless, I am thankful we get to celebrate our first Thanksgiving as a married couple together, even if it is just the two of us rather than a huge Thanksgiving dinner.
Staying true to my blog’s motto, “Write Boldly,” I want to challenge you that we can still be thankful this year. If you think really hard about it, there are definitely things you can be thankful for, even if COVID has affected it. I, for one, am thankful for marrying my wife this year (even though we got “COVID married”), for passing vicarage, the people who donated money to pay for my wife’s Green Card, my pastor(s), my parents, and my professors at seminary who’ve been understanding during these times. All of these have been affected by COVID in one way or another, yet I recognise God’s faithfulness in the midst of this pandemic and am thankful to Him for these things.
And that’s the challenge for you today: Whether or not COVID has affected your Thanksgiving traditions, and whether or not you imagine 2020 is out to get you (it’s not; it’s just a year, not a sentient being), we all can still be thankful to God.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus has not revealed the best parts of humanity; it has exposed the worst parts of us. Instead of face masks becoming an opportunity for us to love our neighbour, for example, we instead use face masks as an opportunity to prove we’re better than those who don’t wear them. Instead of patiently and kindly exhorting our neighbour to wear a face mask for the sake of their neighbour, we shame them and tell them how disgraceful of a human being they are. Of course, they don’t end up wearing a mask in the end because disgusting cruelty doesn’t convince anyone to alter their behaviour.
Rather, as Paul says, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Ephesians 5:4). Instead of being thankless, cruel people hiding behind our face masks, let us be thankful, kind, gentle, and patient during this time. The coronavirus—the year 2020—is no excuse for this. “What is there to be thankful for this year,” you might ask me. I don’t know; you tell me. I already told you what I’m thankful to God for this year. But here are some ideas: at least be thankful that you live in a time where you can order groceries online, talk with with your family and friends online via video chat, binge watch Netflix to relieve you of your boredom during quarantine, and so on.
So, take some time this Thanksgiving—whether you’re with family or alone—and reflect on God’s faithfulness in the midst of this transient pandemic and give thanks to Him. This is literally the first pandemic in history where we are able to take care of all our needs without having to walk out of our homes. So, at least be thankful for that.
“What if I lost someone to the coronavirus?” This is a terrible thing to endure, especially on Thanksgiving. If they were a believer, be thankful that they now rest in Christ’s arms, and that you shall see them in the bodily resurrection to come. Were you comforted during your loss? Be thankful to those people who were and are with you during your grieving. Did your church help you with your grief and funeral planning? Be thankful to your church. Even in death, there is something to be grateful for since Christ has conquered death in His resurrection and now makes you more than conquerors of death through Him (Romans 8:37-39).
One last Scripture, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). Not only be constant in prayer, but also be watchful of what you should be thankful for while you pray. As you or someone else prays over the Thanksgiving meal today, think what you are thankful to God for. It doesn’t have to be huge. God gives us small things as well, for He knows these small things are significant for us too. God has promised to give us our daily bread (Matthew 6:11); the coronavirus has no power to prevent God from doing this, and He has done just this during the pandemic.