In Germany, today has been a normal gray November Thursday. In the USA, Americans are waking up to a national Thanksgiving Day holiday. In both places, however, there is a great deal of frustration that this holiday season is being hijacked by a virus and/or government restrictions limiting the size and location of public and even family gatherings.
It seems this is not a year where you will catch up face-to-face with all the family members you haven’t seen since last Thanksgiving or Christmas. It seems this is not a year you will be taking the kids in person to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, or taste a piece of Aunt Shelby’s pumpkin pie. It seems this may not be a year where you will hang out for hours with friends drinking Glühwein and eating Bratwurst at your favorite Christmas market. It seems unlikely this will be a year that you’ll get to join the party typically gathered at the Brandenburg Gate (or any other street corner for that matter) to shoot fireworks and ring in the new year.
I realize there is a lot more to the sense of loss and heaviness in the world than these relatively trivial issues. There are many facing genuine health and economic crises. But have you noticed how almost every conversation these days includes a great deal of complaining about how much has been taken away from us? About how ridiculous this or that restriction is? About how stupid the government is in handling the pandemic? About how stupid the protesters are who demonstrate and complain about how stupid the government is? About having to wear masks, or maybe about those who don’t wear masks, or who don’t wear them properly?
I am as guilty as everyone else in this regard, but I want to urge us all to begin taking a different approach–one actually exhorted by the apostle Paul in his first epistle to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18): “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Notice, the apostle does not say, “Complain in all circumstances.”
Take a moment today, and, perhaps, a moment EVERY day between now and the end of the year and speak out loud at least one thing for which you are thankful during these Corona circumstances. It would be more beneficial if someone else heard you! In fact, start your next conversation with thanksgiving instead of complaining!
All of us are recipients of countless gifts of God even in 2020. Let’s stop and acknowledge them.