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Chaplain: Being Thankful in Difficult Times

By Allen Teal, Chaplain

“O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalms 107:1, KJV)

After a year of violence, illness and uncertainty, we need Thanksgiving Day on November 26. Plan to make it a day to remember the past with an eye toward the future. While there will be empty seats at many tables, many more will have new additions to the family to celebrate. By Thanksgiving, the noise generated by a national election should have begun to subside. A new year sits on the horizon, carrying the real possibility that the pandemic may find an end. Against this backdrop, three opportunities for thanks come to mind.

Be thankful for medical professionals.

On the front lines, health care workers have battled the pandemic faithfully. They have often worked in uncomfortable positions with masks, gowns and gloves as their only lines of defense against a deadly virus. Behind the scenes, others have worked with this virus in order to uncover enough of its secrets to be on the cusp of developing a vaccine. Many separated themselves from family and friends to prevent spreading the infection to their families. They have done all this while facing the same loss of loved ones, social isolation and fears like everyone else.

Be thankful for family.

Some may struggle with this even in the best times. Family represents your past, your contemporaries and your future. The loss of family members has been more acute during this year. In mid-spring, I had to choose which 10 members of my family could attend my mom’s funeral. It was more than hard. On November 26, my family will celebrate without her. We will focus on the family we have now and the family that will carry on to future generations.

Be thankful for the Lord.

This is more than giving thanks to God. It is recognizing that all we have and all we are is a product of God’s existence and grace. Psalm 107:1 tells us that God is good and merciful. Through good times and bad, God is with us. His goodness and mercy extend to those whom you may think deserve it and those who do not. This is God’s nature. It is who He is. Take time to be thankful that the Lord is with you and those you love.

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