On Friday, the 13th day of November 2020, someone famously sarcastically exclaimed, “What could possibly go wrong?” Even though it elicited laughter, the truth is, most of us recognized we might want to avoid stepping on cracks in the sidewalk, breaking any mirrors, or walking under ladders.
Today, we are fatigued from worry, sadness, and in many cases, loneliness. Many have lost loved ones due to the pandemic and others have lost jobs and income. We have suffered the slings and arrows of a bitter, contentious election that disrupted many relationships and hardened our hearts.
Now, it seems as if the COVID Grinch is trying to sabotage our traditional joyous holiday season. What else could possibly go wrong? None of us should be surprised if there is a turkey recall or a limit on yams or cranberry sauce the week before our 2020 Thanksgiving!
So, how are we supposed to elicit gratitude around our Thanksgiving tables this year? How do we find happiness amid such sorrow? Where do we toss our bitterness, division, and heartache?
The answer is found in one word: God. We can all say we believe in a higher power, attend religious services and tap our prayer emojis on our phones, but there are times we are each called to “use” our faith.
When we face daunting hardships and seemingly hopeless tomorrows, we can either succumb to defeat or turn to our faith. The Bible tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. My take on that is we are to find gratitude amid a pandemic, loss, uncertainty, and insecurity.
A good friend of mine was shocked by the sudden news of a possible cancer diagnosis. As I held her while tears ran down our cheeks, I found myself extremely thankful that she is a part of my life. God gave us many years of love and laughter, and I pray there will be many more. However, I am thankful that she is blessed with the personality and strength to forge forward and fight. She will “use” her faith to travel the rocky road she is to navigate.
There is a moment of gratitude in every situation, even as tears fall and life is upended. Perhaps we just need to recognize them.
We fight over politics and elections, stomping our feet and gritting our teeth. Yet we raise our flags and take pride in our country being the land of liberty. God gave us a gift in the men and women called to service who maintain our freedom, allowing us to openly pray to him. Our hearts should be filled with gratitude even as we stomp our feet and grit out teeth.
As a pandemic sweeps our world and fear grips our souls, there is much to be thankful for: The doctors and nurses who risk their lives caring for those suffering. From the grocery clerks who stock our shelves to farmers who supply our food. The first responders who rush to our aid and the scientists striving around the clock to find cures and treatments. So many people who are diligently working; the least we can do is be thankful.
Often, I question why some folks do not have faith. If they study and contemplate the diversity of the individual skills we possess, they might change their mind. If we were all born to become doctors, then who would put out the fires? If we all were meant to be firefighters, who would cure the sick? The vast network of talent and skill knitted together for the survival of mankind was not generated by a computer but by the hand of the Divine.
There is a moment of gratitude in every situation. When we can see the light of God cut through uncertain darkness, we discover hope.
This Thanksgiving may not resemble a Norman Rockwell painting for most of us. Instead, perhaps, this is the year we turn to the guest seated at the head of our table and, with a resounding, heartfelt shout, exclaim,
“Dear God, thank you for you! Thank you for being with us, for teaching us that trusting you is how we find gratitude, joy, and peace. It is how we love, how we forgive, and how we forge on with strength. Your grace and mercy are immeasurable. Please help us to believe that in all circumstances, we are to give thanks for the blessings you bestow upon us.”
The COVID Grinch may try to sabotage the holidays, but nothing can steal our hopeful joy when faith provides us with grateful hearts.