2020 November

Thankful During the Pandemic?

by Clare Krabill, MHS Chief Operating Officer

Clare Krabill, MHS Chief Operating Officer

By now you have all heard the following questions on more than one occasion:

  • What are you thankful for during this time?
  • What changes have you made that you would like to continue with following the pandemic?

Both of these are good questions designed to help us focus on the positives, acknowledge the good learning that has happened, practice gratitude and be forward thinking. Without a doubt these are things we should be thinking about and pondering them brings value. Yet, if I am honest with myself, some of the answers I provide when asked these questions feel more like an attempt at a consolation prize in the midst of great human pain and suffering rather than expressions of deep gratitude.

In the midst of this pandemic I find I am increasingly less able to make sense of the world. My reasoning brings me up short. I was not prepared for the inhumanity and suffering I would witness. Nor was I prepared for how this global event would lay bare the interconnectedness of all people and the vulnerabilities that this unearths.

Perhaps the most surprising result of the pandemic has been the questions I have asked myself.

In the quiet hours in the middle of the night and the hours previously taken up by activities and social times, I have had the time to pause and wonder at my own certitudes and the gains and privileges I have enjoyed in being a white collar, educated American woman.

In these quiet hours as I have brought my questions to God, I have been surprised by what I have learned.

Walter Brueggemann in his new book, Virus as a Summons to Faith, gives words to my thoughts when he writes, “Only rarely—like now!—do we collide with your hiddenness that summons us and embarrasses us. We peek into your awesome hidden presence; we find our certitudes quite disrupted.”

If you have had these moments, then perhaps you know that as you enter into lament and seek God’s forgiveness, you are met in brief instants by both His grace and His holiness. You begin to understand in an expanded and different way that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,” (Ps 111:10a).

Brueggemann makes the point, that, “by that instant, however, we are changed…sobered, summoned, emancipated, filled with wonder before your holiness. It is for this holiness that outflanks us that we give you thanks.” That wonder and the glimpse into God’s holiness are eternal gifts for which we can truly be thankful. They aren’t the kind of gifts that feel completely comfortable in the moment as their intimate partner is deep conviction. There is, of course, a cost to real change even as there is something beautiful gained. May the wonderment come to you and may it drive you closer to God and entangle you more deeply with Him in His work of healing and hope. For these things may we be deeply thankful during the midst of this pandemic.

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