To say that 2020 has been a rough year is a laughable understatement. If you are superstitious, you might be shaking your finger at me as if daring to talk about it holds the power to summon the next apocalyptic sign. What could possibly sound scarier than murder hornets? Perhaps being quarantined all alone with small children as you try to process and recover from the biggest blow the universe can throw you. When you get sucker-punched by life there’s nobody you can charge with a foul and you can’t exactly call a time-out. However, a time-out is just how I have been looking at this quarantine and I am here to tell you that there is always a silver lining.
If you have ever lost a loved one, I hope that you were fortunate enough to be surrounded by family and friends in the immediate aftermath. If you were this fortunate, then you also probably know how the calls, meals, and check-ins all slowly begin to spread out and then fade away. As the time between visitors grew, I was ready to welcome the silence and knew I needed some space to let reality set in. I needed that space, but it was still heartbreaking to see everyone get back to life as usual. If you have ever lost a loved one then you know that one of the hardest things to witness is the world go on like normal when your own world is completely shattered. 2020 has been a rough year for everyone, and when I lost Taylor, the world stopped with me.
I can’t help but think what a fortunate situation I am in as a widow in 2020. I am humbled daily when I think about all the people who showed up for Taylor’s service, traveling from all over the country to offer their support. Had the pandemic broken out in the U.S. a month earlier, we would not have been able to celebrate Taylor’s life the way we did. I also thought I would be ready to go back to work after spring break as I only teach three days a week and am fortunate to be a part of a wonderful and supportive school. I went back to teaching in January 2019 when a great position opened up and just sort of fell into my lap. I believe that God knew then I was going to need a job as a single mother and provided me with the right opportunity. I am grateful that I was able to finish the school year online. I needed my work to give me a break from grieving 24/7, but probably didn’t need to push myself to get back in the classroom just yet.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
The bible tells us to be thankful in ALL circumstances. We are not commanded to pick and choose when and under what conditions we want to give thanks. Be thankful for the good times AND the bad, our fortunes AND our misfortunes, the joys AND the sufferings of life. If you are not familiar with Corrie Ten Boom, I strongly encourage you to read her story. Corrie and her sister were imprisoned in a flea infested concentration camp during WWII. As faithful Christians, they thanked God for ALL aspects of the situation they were in, including the fleas. The sisters later learned that the fleas were what kept the guards away from their encampment, allowing them freedom to read and share the bible with the other prisoners.
Sometimes I want to get angry. I want to run away and pretend that this isn’t real. I want to wallow in the fetal position all day, but instead I obediently thank God for my fleas. The Lord has a purpose for EVERYTHING. So much good, learning and community has come out of this pandemic. The quarantine has definitely rocked our normal routine, but I am thankful for the break I was given from the real world. I am thankful for the time I got to hide away with my family and love on my girls. I am thankful it’s 2020 and I have the convenience to work, communicate and even order groceries from the comfort of my own home, speaking of which, I am thankful for the roof over my head. Take time this week to be joyful and give thanks to God for the circumstances you are facing, no matter what they are, because you never know how the Lord is using your own fleas for His greater purpose.
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