As Thanksgiving approaches, it might be a little hard to get our thankful on this year. With a worldwide pandemic dogging us since the end of 2019, civil unrest, economic crisis, a hurricane season that appears to be never-ending, fires and other natural disasters scorching the earth, and all the accompanying tragedies, it might seem tempting to cut our losses and just forget about the holiday this year. Giving thanks might take a little more grace than usual this Thanksgiving.
Undoubtedly, the holiday will be different for many people this year. Many people will not be gathering with family face-to-face, as they usually do. Many traditional venues for holiday celebrating may be closed or operating much differently. Many families who have suffered financial hardships this year may be struggling to provide peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, much less turkey dinners with all the trimmings. Many people have lost beloved family members and friends to the coronavirus. Others have lost good health. We have all lost a certain measure of stability and security about what our world looks like and how we should live in it.
While it may seem more natural to question the dismal state of the world than to give thanks, it may be that living through a period of crisis actually increases our need to give thanks. I do not suggest that the coronavirus or any of the deeply troubling events of the past year are good or necessary. I do not believe that there is an intrinsic goodness in hardship. I do not subscribe to a “Pollyanna” school of thought, believing that people who are suffering should just “try to see the bright side.” I believe that hardships, gut-wrenching grief, and brokenness are real. It is disingenuous to suggest a person can just “positive” them away. These difficulties occur for a variety of reasons in the natural world. Sometimes, these painful events are the consequences of the actions of people. Sometimes, they are normal experiences that are natural processes happening in the circle of life. I do not think we will ever understand the reasons for all the hard times we must face. I do believe, however, that God takes the hardships of our lives and brings some good from them. Without these momentary flutters of divine grace in the midst of our pain, we might not be able to bear the most fractured moments of this life.
I have seen some divine grace moments over the past months. They are like fleeting twinkles of stars in a dark, gloomy sky. This year has sometimes felt like we were each all alone in the dark. Having even a momentary twinkle is enough to keep me hoping for morning.
Here are some of my twinkles this Thanksgiving:
- I am thankful for the creativity, innovation, and hard work many people exhibit to help us live more comfortably and communally in a world that closed up shop.
- I am thankful that people have used the time of separation to touch base with others. It may be that some of the people we have been nurturing during the quarantine may be people who are often lonely and sad, even before the virus threat. It is counterintuitive, but it is possible that the coronavirus connected us more than it separated us.
- I am thankful for the generosity of people to those who have suffered financially during this past year.
- I am thankful that the need to stay home gave me the time to publish a new book.
- I am thankful for the quiet and comfort of my home.
- I am thankful that I was able to clean out all my closets and drawers.
- I am thankful that the treatment protocols for COVID-19 have improved and that vaccine progress is hopeful.
- I am thankful for my brothers and sisters in faith who hold me close to their hearts and inspire me with their journeys.
- I am thankful for the internet, Zoom, email, texting, Facebook, and other virtual communication methods.
- I am thankful that I will have a Thanksgiving dinner, even if it is not exactly like previous years.
- I am thankful that God gave me blessings to share with others. I am so much more aware of how much fun it is and how happy it makes me to sow God’s grace.
- Most of all, I am thankful that I am a beloved child of God. I can rely on his all-consuming love to comfort me in the heartbreaks of this life and to lead me to eternal joy in His presence when I am finished with the work He has for me to do.
It certainly may be that giving thanks will take a little more grace this year. The good news is that God always has more grace to provide. Anyone want a second helping?
I don’t know if you caught that I was thankful that I had the opportunity to publish a book this year. If television commercials are to be believed, it seems the entire month of November is “black Friday” this year. In that spirit, I respectfully suggest you go to Amazon.com and buy many copies of Random (A)Musings by Dorry Curran to give as holiday gifts!