As I prepare to serve as a host for a Thanksgiving celebration, I cannot help but stop and realize that this holiday season is going to be entirely different than any other. I don my mask as I enter the grocery store, staying at least six feet from my shopping counterparts. Inside, I see a little girl in a shield drop her doll in the aisle; I smile at her through my mask (you know, the eye smile) and pick up her doll. Her face lights up behind the shield as I move toward her with her toy.
I approach, grateful for a “normal” interaction in a world of “new normals,” only to be met by the girl’s grandmother, who hurriedly grabs the doll from me, sprays it down with Lysol, throws it in the cart, and pushes it away down the aisle, with hand sanitizer on the ready to squirt into her and her granddaughter’s hands. In this moment, I am crushed as I realize that this typically normal interaction in any American grocery store will not be normalized for quite some time, due to COVID-19.
A Cautious Thanksgiving
This interaction flashed my mind forward to my own Thanksgiving holiday fete, where I would host my own gathering of ten or fewer family members. Our small group will be missing out on the fullness of a gathering in order to ensure its safety. Hugs will be traded for waves. Laughter will be muffled under face masks. Hand sanitizer will flow like water. And the maximum capacity of the table will not be tested, but instead place settings will be distanced to minimize contact.
Standing there with my stuffing in one hand and my collard greens in the other, I thought to myself, This year, would cautiousness crush our thankfulness?
The Faithfulness of God
But then I remembered 1 Chronicles 16:34, where King David says, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!”
I was reminded about who our God is. Our God is old. He has seen His people through anything and everything. He saw the Israelites through their time in and out of Egypt in Exodus. He saw the apostles through persecution in Acts. He saw Paul through a long imprisonment. He was faithful to His people because of His love for them. And they gave thanks for Him!
I was reminded of how our God is also no stranger to pandemics! In His timelessness, He has seen his people through plagues in Egypt. He has allowed the destroyer to pass over them on account of the blood of the lamb. He has seen the world through the bubonic plague. He has seen us through several influenza crises. And now, He is walking with us in COVID-19.
I was simply assaulted by one fact: our God loves us. He loves us so much, in fact, that our thankfulness should overflow.
So instead of being disappointed about just ten seats at the Thanksgiving table, we should give thanks that God allowed us to have some more intimate conversations with a smaller family group.
Instead of complaining about being six feet apart, we should be grateful that we are not seeing our loved ones pass and be put six feet under.
Instead of allowing our cautiousness to tint our thankfulness, we should let our thankfulness be amplified in this moment. We should praise God for His gifts.
Ten seats—six feet—let’s eat.
And give thanks to Him who loves us.
Happy Thanksgiving—no matter the distance between you and those you love.
Because there is no distance between us and the One who loves us.
Amid unusual celebrations, Jesus Christ remains the same.