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Who would have imagined one short month ago that we would be facing a global crisis called Coronavirus? Like everyone else, my life has been affected by the virus. My young adult sons are home most of the time now, only working very minimal hours, and I don’t get to see my married daughters for the time being. My missionary sister and her family had to evacuate from Tanzania and have moved into our little rental here on our property, but generally things in my life are continuing to plod forward. I avoid going out and am trying to carefully abide by the quarantine restrictions. Bible studies, counseling, and planning meetings have simply moved online, but even in these small inconveniences, I have discovered something insidious residing in my heart. Unthankfulness!

Sadly, I have noticed that I can easily tend to be discontent and ungrateful. In light of this discovery, I am realizing that if I hope to weather the storms of the Coronavirus well, I must learn to choose thankfulness every single day –and often throughout each day.

To be quite candid, I’m growing weary of the COVID 19 topic. I am struggling to fight lethargy, boredom, and frustration. When I see real life stories of people who have died or of the medical staff in various hospitals that are exhausted, I am grieved and dislike this disease even more. Social media does nothing to help my perspective. There are so many varying opinions and each person is convinced theirs is the “right” one.  Quite frankly, it is easy to be plain right down sick and tired of it all. And that is the reason I must choose to cultivate a heart of thankfulness. Grumbling, disputing, laziness, and discontentment do not please my Savior, nor do they reflect His work in my life and mastery over it. If I want my life to be pleasing to God during the Coronavirus pandemic, I must learn to practice thankfulness.

True Thankfulness is supernatural

Paul wrote In Colossians 3:17: “Whatever you do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” There isn’t much content in this little verse, but it has a lot to say. We are told that EVERYTHING we say and do should be done in Jesus’s name, and in ALL those things, we should give thanks to God through Jesus. Nothing we do should be done apart from a desire to honor the name of Christ because we are His ambassadors doing His work here on earth. In addition to that, we are instructed to give thanks to God through Jesus. This means that in every aspect of dealing with the impacts of the Coronavirus, we should be striving to honor the name of the Lord Jesus and to give thanks to God through Him.

I realize the Coronavirus is no light matter. Many people have been affected by the adverse difficulties of this pandemic. From boredom to grief, from isolation to economic ruin, from skepticism to anxiety, from caution to carelessness, from doubt to faith, we are all responding a bit differently. But one thing we know is that however we respond, we should do so as a representative of Christ, giving thanks to God through Him. This means that even in all the challenges we are facing, we must give thanks to God the Father through Jesus Christ.

To give thanks through Christ is extremely significant for two reasons. First, we are entirely indebted to Christ for EVERYTHING. Not only did he provide the infinite blessing of salvation to rebellious sinners through His death and resurrection on the cross, but he was also the means through which all of creation came into being. Every physical and spiritual blessing we experience is a result of the goodness, kindness, and love of Christ.

Second, only through Christ are we able to recognize our blessings and express true appreciation for the things we have received. Because of the salvation we have received through Christ, we are strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit to give thanks.

To simplify this, we can think of it in two parts. 1. Christ has supplied every benefit for which we give thanks. 2. Christ supplies the ability to give thanks for those benefits.

Essentially, what we need to understand is that apart from Christ there could be no true thankfulness. Though Scripture instructs us again and again to be thankful (Eph. 5:4, 20; Col. 3:15-17; 1 Thes. 5:18), apart from Christ we would be unable to express genuine thankfulness. This is perhaps more significant than we might realize because as we will see, a person whose life is dominated by unthankfulness does not know Christ as Savior.

Thankfulness distinguishes believers from unbelievers.

In contrast to believers who have been given every eternal blessing in the heavenly places and who have been given the ability through Christ to be truly thankful, we must consider unbelievers. The apostle Paul describes them in Romans 1:21: “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Notice that Paul described the unbeliever as not giving thanks.

Solomon explained the root of unthankfulness in Ecclesiastes 1:8b: “The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing.” The natural person, apart from God, is never satisfied. They are driven by greed, jealousy, envy, and covetousness. No matter what unbelievers accumulate or accomplish, it will never be enough because both their spiritual and physical desires will never be met apart from Christ.

The unbeliever experiences the exact opposite of the believer. He will not give thanks because he has not received God’s gift of salvation; therefore, he has nothing for which to give thanks. He also lacks the power of the Holy Spirit to exercise true thankfulness. Ultimately, there are two reasons the unbeliever fails to be thankful.  First, he has received no benefit for which to give thanks, and second, he lacks the motivation and power to give the thanks.

One of the primary differences between believers and unbelievers should be the measure of gratitude in their lives.  A believer’s life should overflow with gratitude because he has received every important, eternal benefit and he is empowered by the Holy Spirit to give thanks.

Sadly, many of us who are believers lose sight of our many blessings, and as a result, we drift into attitudes of unthankfulness. We take our eyes off Christ and all that he has done for us, and we focus on the temporal things we dislike. The more our perspective shifts away from our eternal hope in Christ and the blessings he provides, the more we look like unbelievers who are discontent, covetous, jealous, and ungrateful.

This is the dangerous reality that we are facing with the Coronavirus. We are so bombarded with information, regulations, and opinions—not to mention our own emotions—that our minds easily drift away from what is truly important—our eternal hope and blessings in Christ Jesus. When this becomes the pattern of our thoughts, we fail to practice thankfulness and, instead, slip into the familiar habit of the unbeliever.

In contrast to the unsatisfied heart of the unbeliever, David explained where we can find true pleasure. He wrote, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Ps. 16:11). No one will ever find complete fulfillment or satisfaction anywhere apart from knowing God. Material wealth, good health, financial security, and social freedom will never give us what we truly desire. Only the person whose heart is fixed on Jesus and whose deepest longings are satisfied only in the presence of God will be truly thankful.

An Eternal Perspective Enables Thankfulness

Perhaps you are, like me, striving to be thankful and endeavoring to properly respond to our chaotic world with joyful hope. If that is your goal, as it is mine, we must remember that every benefit we have is from God through Jesus. If you have a warm house in which to quarantine during these last weeks of winter, thank your Heavenly Father. If you have food to eat today, thank God. If you are fighting the virus itself, be thankful that you live in America where you will have one of the best medical teams in the world to nurse you back to health.

I recently saw a Facebook post from a doctor in India who listed off many things that we in America take for granted. Because we have been born and raised in affluence (compared to other places in the world), we tend not to see the benefits we have received. We have running water with which to wash our hands. We have access to things like Clorox wipes and antibacterial hand sanitizer. We have houses and spacious neighborhoods in which to practice social distancing. We are blessed with excellent medical facilities and personnel who will do their best to help us live through COVID 19. In all these things, we ought to give thanks to God through Jesus Christ who has provided all these benefits and then given us the power through the Holy Spirit to be thankful.

Let us not be like the unbeliever whose heart always demands more, whose eyes and ears are never satisfied with the things of this world. Let us rejoice in deep, heartfelt gratitude that even if we had none of these American comforts, we are still children of the most high God. This world will never appease our desires, so let’s not expect it to satisfy us. Instead, let us focus on our eternal blessings even in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Let us rejoice in our eternal hope.

  • Thank God that He holds our future in His good and loving care.

Matthew 6:30-31, 33-34 “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is [alive] today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, [will He] not much more [clothe] you? You of little faith! 31 “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ … 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

  • Give thanks that our hope is not in our riches, but rather it is in God.

1 Timothy 6:17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

  • Thank God that even if we die, it is gain.

Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

We cannot deny that things are difficult, and I am not suggesting that we do. Some of our lives will never be the same even when COVID 19 fades into the distant past. But my desire in these trials is to keep my mind focused on my eternal hope, and as a result, I will give thanks to God the Father through Jesus Christ.

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