In times of viruses, quarantines, economic upheaval, fear and change, the Christian's great comfort comes, as always, through prayer. When Paul was explaining his great suffering to the Corinthian Christians, he revealed God's purpose in all hardship: "But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." (2 Cor. 1:9) So all of this is designed to make us rely on God. But how? The primary way Christians rely on God is prayer.
This is why Philippians 4:6-7 has come mind several times recently. "...do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." It's always those two words in the middle that get me: "with thanksgiving." If we want that peace which surpasses all understanding, it will come only after we pour out our hearts to God, with thanksgiving.
So here is my attempt to be more thoughtful about reasons to give God thanks during the current crisis. I'd love for you comment on this post with other reasons!
-I'm giving thanks to God for technology which allows us to broadcast sermons online and stay connected to many we would otherwise not see for quite a while.
-I'm giving thanks to God for the health of our economy for many years now, which has allowed many to build up considerable wealth...wealth that can now be used to help those in need.
-I'm giving thanks to God for the doctors and nurses and scientists who have spent most of their lives preparing for this moment in our history.
-I'm giving thanks to God for the general peace and order of our society. Despite shortages on some items, we aren't panicking.
-I'm giving thanks to God for newly open roads for the gospel. Our neighbors are being shown their mortality and limits in an undeniable way. When eyes see the true darkness around us, Jesus will shine all the brighter.
-I'm giving thanks for the amazing examples we have from the church throughout history in responding to medical crises.
-I'm thankful for extra time with our kids at home. We've had such a busy year, playing taxi to teenagers...I know it's not a relief for everyone, but we are thankful for some relaxed down time with them.
-I'm thankful for the many stories of people already taking care of each other in significant ways: grocery stores opening early for the elderly, kids playing concerts on porches of shut-ins, groceries being delivered by thoughtful neighbors, and so many more. What beautiful examples of Christlike love!
What about you? What thanksgivings are you bringing to God?