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A year ago, this weekend, our world shut down. A dark cloud of uncertainty called COVID-19 was spreading across our country. Some have said that a year ago this past week was the last “normal” week our country has had, but the week of March 9-16, 2020 was no normal week. Every time I turned on the radio a different event was cancelling. I celebrated my 45th birthday that Friday, and then headed to a veterinary conference in Syracuse, NY. Only about half of the registered attendees showed up. Almost all the conference speakers stayed home and we watched them on the conference hall screen as they taught remotely from their homes and offices; little did I realize that this was to become the way lectures and meetings would be during 2020. I did not yet know what “Zoom” was. I had not yet heard the terms “new normal” or “social distancing” either, and on that March 14th, 2020 weekend, no one was wearing a mask!

But a year ago that weekend everything was changing fast. There were so many cancellations going on, that my fellow deacons had me, from my hotel room, send a message out to our church members using our emergency text list just to let everyone know that our church was still holding services that Sunday. Little did I know, that I would miss the last “normal” church service we would have in all of 2020. Over the next week our governor would repeatedly cut the number of people allowed to gather together until, by the next weekend, NY State residents were ordered to all stay home unless you were an “essential worker.”

How nice it is to have that year over. How nice it is to arrive at the weekend of March 13th, 2021. My veterinary conferencing is completely over Zoom this year, and I’ll be “participating” from home, but I am alive and well (after getting COVID-19 myself) to enjoy the conference, and I’ll get be in person worshiping with my church family this Sunday. The dark clouds of COVID-19 are still in the sky, but rays of sunshine are now breaking through. The number of COVID-19 cases locally and nationally are dropping. Several good vaccines are now available and more and more people are being vaccinated daily. CDC and state social distancing restrictions are starting to ease a little, and the nation’s economy is starting to make a comeback. We have much to thank God for!

That said, I realize that there are a lot of hurting people in our world right now. For many the storm is just starting, or there has not yet been that ray of light through the clouds. God answered my prayer that I would not spread COVID-19; none of my family got sick, but that was not true for many families. There are many who have lost loved ones, even multiple family members! There are many who lost jobs, businesses, homes, and are struggling to put food on the table. There are many who turned to drugs and addictions during the pandemic. There were many strained relationships from the difficulties of 2020, and marriages that are faltering. This weekend we need to be in prayer for all those who are suffering, but this weekend needs to be a weekend also of praising God. For our Lord is good and is with us even when our circumstances are not good (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

Our greatest treasure is not found in the things of this world, (one of the life lessons of 2020), but in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ which can never be taken away from us! (Romans 8:35-39) That is why God calls us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). This weekend is a good weekend to contemplate the words of 1 Thessalonians 5 and to be joyful, pray, and give thanks to our Lord who brought us through 2020!

1 Thessalonians 5:14-18

“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”