Unexpected Benefits

I once heard the story of an old pastor who had served the same congregation for many years. During those years, the congregation members had become impressed with the pastor’s ability to find something to be thankful for in every situation. On one particularly cold, snowy Sunday morning, the pastor arrived late to church due to the bad weather conditions. Watching as he trudged up to the front to begin the service, the congregation couldn’t help but wonder what he could find to be thankful for on a day like that. The pastor opened with prayer, and as he came to the end, he said, “… and Lord, we thank you that most days are not like today.”

Perhaps many of us would join that old pastor in giving thanks that all years are not like this year. The pandemic certainly brought about many changes that I don’t think any of us saw coming.

My wife, Emalynn, and I experienced changes, too. The adult day center where she worked as an activities coordinator closed and won’t be re-opening for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19 restrictions. I work as a window washer, and as with many other seasonal jobs, summer is usually our most profitable time of year. Due to the pandemic, business was a lot slower than usual and my season was cut short by a full month from what I was expecting. That’s a big hit to the pocketbook when you are paid on commission.

With all these unexpected changes, it would be easy to grumble about how things didn’t go the way I had hoped. However, the reminder to “give thanks in all things” helps me to have a different perspective.

In all these changes, there has been a lot to be thankful for. The shutdown of my wife’s adult day center along with the government mandated stay-at-home orders led to a lot more quality time at home together. The lock down allowed us to get creative and rediscover old hobbies again, such as painting, enjoying nature, woodworking, and fishing. Emalynn used some of her time to acquire additional certifications in dementia and therapeutic activities to further her career. The slow window washing season also gave us the opportunity to take a
10-day trip to visit family which would not have been possible during a typical busy season.

Another unexpected benefit of all these COVID-19 related changes has been a renewed hunger for God’s Word and fellowship with other believers. As part of the shutdown, my church, like many others, moved to online-only services for a while. During this time, I really began to appreciate and miss the opportunity to gather together with my church family. Although we have returned to in-person services, there are still some who are unable to attend out of an abundance of caution regarding the pandemic. I eagerly anticipate the day when we can all worship together again.

Regardless of our circumstances, there is one thing we can always be thankful for, one thing that never changes—we can give thanks in all situations because God has given us a Savior. Jesus Christ has paid the price for all our sins and we can rejoice that through faith we receive salvation. We know that no matter how bad things get, or whatever may happen to us in this life, we have the hope of eternity with Him, where all things will be made new. Thanks be to God for all that He has done.

Jeremy Nikunen [FLS middler] is from Minneapolis, Minn.

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