In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, we are instructed to “give thanks in all circumstances,” and, in Philippians 2:13, we are instructed to “Do all things without complaining.” When life is calm, these instructions are easy to follow, but when life is tumultuous, these instructions are difficult to follow.
Right now, we are facing a crisis unlike anything any of us have ever experienced before, and it is extraordinarily easy for us to complain about the situation rather than express gratitude. How can we be thankful during a time when we are legally required to “shelter in place”? How can we be grateful for a situation that is financially crippling individuals, families, and businesses? How can we resist complaining when we as parents are suddenly forced to be homeschool teachers? How can we express thanks in a situation that is putting so many lives at risk?
You may think it is impossible to be thankful during a time like this, but we must not forget that “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). So, I want to share with you three things for which I am thankful during this pandemic.
First, I am thankful for the negative effect this situation has had on my schedule. I did not realize how busy our family was until we had to begin social distancing. Work, school, chores, and worship continue for us as usual, but all of the extra-curricular activities and additional responsibilities have been stripped away. As a result, the past four weeks have seen an increase in family time, rest, household management, and spiritual activities. Thus, this time of social distancing has made me reassess how I use my time, and I have been reminded that we are to make “the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:16) and to “give no opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27). Busyness tends to distract me from what is most important, and that gives the devil an opportunity to weaken me spiritually. But this situation has slowed me down and given me the opportunity to focus on what is truly important.
Second, I am thankful for the pleasant weather we have experienced during this situation. The weather tends to be one of our chief complaints, but during this time of social distancing, we have been blessed with particularly pleasant weather. As a result, I’ve been able to complete some much-needed yard work around the house, Micah has been able to play outside, and our family has been able to avoid feeling trapped indoors by going on some evening walks. Earlier this year, we were inundated with rain for several days, and such a deluge would be miserable under the current “shelter in place” policy. So, I am thankful for the pleasant weather with which God has blessed us, and I am reminded that God is the One who “gives rain on the earth” (Job 5:10) as well as the One who “set a limit for the rain” (Job 28:26).
Finally, I am thankful that this situation occurred during this age of technological advancement. Have you considered how much more difficult this situation would be if it happened just twenty years ago? Text messaging was in its infancy. Facebook, YouTube, Skype, and Zoom had yet to launch. Netflix was still a mail-order service, and Amazon was still primarily an online bookstore. Additionally, the Internet was still relatively young, so live-streaming a worship service was unimaginable for most congregations. We should be thankful that this situation occurred at a time when groceries can be obtained by delivery, children’s education and personal communication can be maintained digitally, and assembling for worship can be accomplished virtually. Although this pandemic is not a blessing per se, the timing of it is truly a blessing, and I am reminded that God makes “everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
The goal of this article is not to convince you to be thankful for the same things as me. The goal of this article is to remind us to focus on giving thanks in all circumstances, even the ones that don’t seem to have much for which we can be thankful. So, I encourage you this week to discover and acknowledge the blessings that God has bestowed upon you during this situation while simultaneously praying for Him to bring an end to this pandemic.