As we talk about giving thanks I’m not going into this holiday season with blinders on. Over 258,000 Americans have died of Covid or Covid-related illnesses this year. Unemployment reached levels unheard of since the Great Depression with 33 million unemployed in April. (Unemployment will go back up as the total number of cases and hospitalizations rise and things shut down again.) Theaters, restaurants, airlines and hotels may never been the same, or so it seems. On a personal level, we all know someone that has been quarantined, hospitalized or died from Covid-19. Some families have been hit hard.
Despite all of the things we could list that 2020 has taken from us or how life has changed, we are abundantly and richly blessed. The economic empire built by the United States over the last 80 years is such a great beast it would take a long time to die. The level of technology and resources have allowed many to work from home, to order grocery pickup or delivery, and businesses leaders to meet over Zoom. Churches have live streamed worship services and during the lockdown lots of people learned about binge watching Hulu and Netflix. Disney+ came along at just the right time for many a stay-at-home mom or dad. Imagine if this same pandemic had occurred just 20 or 30 years ago. Think about going through everything we just have for the past 9 months without internet or smartphones.
Then of course we need to pause and realize that the United States is not the whole world. Of the world’s 7.15 billion people, approximately 53% have access to the internet. Access in the developing world is around 47%, a dramatic increase in just the past few years but still fewer than half the population in developing nations. And those are averages, some regions have much less, if any. There are still 1.2 billion people living without electricity. An estimated 790 million people, or 11% of the world’s population, do not have access to clean water and 1.8 billion, a full 25% of the world’s population, do not have adequate sanitation. If you live in a remote village without electric power, and have to walk 2 or 3 miles each way – each day – just to collect dirty water to take home and boil, you don’t even know that you’re missing the latest season of Yellowstone.
Things are bad right now depending on what you’re used to. I miss going to the movie theater and eating at the Chinese buffet just as the much as the next fat, lazy American consumer. If you never had those things to begin with, a global pandemic actually has less effect on your way of life. I can’t go to the theater with my family right now but we do have Prime Video. The buffett is not open but we have a kitchen full appliances and a gas grill out on the carport. We are not “well off” by American standards of living, not by a long shot. But compared to the poorest half of the world’s population we live like kings. Be thankful for what you have, that’s what I really want to say.
Don’t just put positive energy out there into the universe either. Give thanks to God Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. We are each fearfully and wonderfully made in his own image. Use what you have been blessed with to bless others. There may not be a big family Thanksgiving meal or a Christmas parade or whatever celebration your church normally has in December this year; but maybe we will realize those things are nice but we don’t need them. Our churches are so far removed from the first century Christians that meet daily in people’s homes… but that’s kind of preachy and I want to encourage thankfulness today. Count your blessings. Take stock. Then remember it’s all God’s and we just get to play with it for a little while.