Last week I decided I needed to start a list of “good things” from the coronavirus outbreak. Everyone seems to be feeling overly cautious or panicked … or overworked if they are healthcare professionals. Or they are beginning to feel overly claustrophobic from staying home like I am. As I type this, I just cancelled a live radio interview on my new book; the interview room is airtight, and microphones are less than six feet apart! Seemed prudent.
Is it possible to be thankful when life as you knew it; when in fact the whole world is shutting down? How do you give thanks when you are stuck at home with people you love but who aren’t used to being together 24/7?
As I’ve written before, one of my faith role models was Corrie ten Boom, survivor of the Holocaust. I never met her, but her life has impacted mine. Famously she wrote about her sister Betsie, who in the midst of the brutality of the Ravensbrook concentration camp urged Corrie to obey the command in the Bible:
“give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Giving thanks In ALL circumstances includes ALL situations … it’s comprehensive, with no exceptions. It’s the will of God … for you. Period. This verse is decisive, strong and unwavering. Again, no exceptions.
I won’t spoil your discovery of reading what Corrie chose to give thanks for. It’s literally creepy! (More on this below.) But early in my faith journey I learned from these sisters the importance of giving thanks even in hard times.
Easter seems the wrong holiday for giving thanks. Isn’t that supposed to happen on Thanksgiving? Or is Easter actually the best holiday for gratitude?
These difficult days, our suffering, has eternal value because of the cross. If God can bring good out of the overwhelmingly unjust murder of a perfectly innocent man, Jesus, He can bring good out of any loss, any hardship, any pain.
Here are two ways to give thanks to God for everything … right now … today … in this present hardship of the coronavirus outbreak, as a way to prepare for Easter as never before.
1. Start a gratitude list with your family (or on your own if you live alone). Like my daughter Ashley used to do for answered prayers, get a quart jar and make it a collection place for spontaneous notes of thanksgiving from everyone in the family. Or hang words of thanksgiving on the clips of your chain garland if you own our Ever Thine Home resource How Do I Love Thee. Practice this verse and give thanks for everything even if it doesn’t feel like a good thing. Keep your lists in view. Your heart will need the reminder in the days to come.
Here’s part of my list of things I can thank God for:
- I’m thankful for more time at home to invest in our marriage relationship. Dennis and I don’t always want to do the same thing and have very different ideas on lots of things. We find we are bumping into each other and trying to figure out how to spend all day every day just us! But it is good and I’m giving thanks for this opportunity.
- We are encouraging our children to lead their families and kiddos in growing their family relationships. I’m thankful we are talking to our kids more and texting more frequently, checking in on one another. This, too, is good.
- I’ve noticed more civility in some places where it’s been rare, more empathy for others from leaders to neighbors, and more prayers for our worldwide community. And I’m grateful for this change. It’s not unlike our country post 9/11 and it is good for all of us.
- This is an opportunity to nurture faith in our own hearts, in our children and in conversations with the few we do meet in person. I’ve been talking about God to a landscape worker who has been doing some yard work recently. This renewed awareness of the brevity of life and freedom is good and I am thankful for the reminder.
- I’m grateful to be home more because it’s the best time for me to do yard work, which I love. Most years we are traveling every few weeks and usually miss March’s cool days to work outside. I’m enough of a wimp that when it gets hot in the summer I’m done with any work outside. I’m thankful for this opportunity. It is a gift to me from my Father.
2. Find or buy Corrie ten Boom’s book, The Hiding Place, and start reading it. You may have read this book in the past, but probably not recently. Nothing gives us courage to live by faith like reading about those who have gone before us who modeled believing in God very well.
I read this book, one chapter a night out loud to my 14- and 15-year-old daughters during the school year, and it was one of the best things I did with them. Then just one month ago I remembered Corrie and her stories of faith. It was such a random thought I knew it was from God, so I found my old tattered paperback copy and read the entire story again.
Corrie’s life models giving thanks to God in literally everything. Her book also tells stories of her father (another role model) teaching his children from the Bible and how it prepared each of them for the life God had planned. I promise you will be giving thanks over and over as you read this remarkable record of a life lived well for the glory of God.
If you don’t have kids, read it out loud with your spouse or roommate. If you live alone, read it to yourself. We are starved for mighty faith heroes in our land.
Easter is just two weeks away. Nurture your heart and your family in preparation for this day by looking for evidence of God’s hand all around you. And may you practice giving thanks in all things even in this new world of coronavirus.
May the cross of Christ be everything to you!