People across the nation were stretched this past Thanksgiving season to find peace, joy and something to be thankful for especially as they are enduring one of the nation’s worst and most devastating crises it has faced in over one hundred years. People will face the same challenges during the Christmas Season as well. Nevertheless, the word of God commands us to be thankful in all things, pray continuously, for he is always with us. Let us remember that even during crises and turmoil, God is in control.
It is difficult to be thankful when one is isolated from family and friends, when you hear that over 285 thousand individuals, some of whom you know, have lost their lives to COVID 19, when over 100 thousand new cases of the virus are reported each day and fellow countrymen watch lines of cars stretching as far as the eye can see filled with persons in search of food to make it through another day or night. It is troubling and terrifying when one notes that over 40 million Americans including large numbers of children are going to bed hungry each night. It is also devastating to see a national scene where hundreds of thousands are being evicted from their places of abode, citizens are facing increasing foreclosures, staggering high unemployment rates where thousands cannot find work to sustain themselves, where there are no bail outs to assist in making ends meet. Loud voices from the right are fixated on reversing the progress that has been made in race relations. People are asking what is there it be thankful for when partisan party politics have been placed over country, when the county is inundated with conspiracy mongering, when American democracy is being assaulted, when the country is suffering as never before from the greatest divide in racial relations history and Americans are desperately in need of economic assistance. Yet, through our darkest moments we must give thanks for life and God’s blessings, for as dire as things seem, it could always be even more devastating. There is so much to be thankful for. Hope and believe that God will provide a way out of this horrible experience as has been done many times before.
It is hoped that during these turbulent and troubling times citizens will be encouraged by the lyrics of a song recorded by Kierra Sheard entitled Hang On. The lyrics encourage the hearer to “Hang on in there when your back is against the wall, when you think all hope is gone. Hang on in there! What do you do when you need a little more grace, when your faith is tested, and you want to quit the race? What are you going to do when you need a little more strength and you are feeling incomplete?” The answer is hang on in there, tell the devil you can’t have my faith, I am going to make it by His grace, hang on, hang on in there. By faith, I believe that this too will pass, for no weapon formed against me shall prosper, and yes, I am going to win.!!
Now is the time for people of God to not only protect themselves from the virus by wearing masks and practicing social distancing, the time is for the saints of God to shine, to pray mightily for the weak and sick among them, praying for those who are facing a crisis in their lives, those who are blinded by doubt and disbelief, those who have become hopeless and see no way out of this crisis. This is time for God’s people to show compassion for neighbors, to speak truth to power, to encourage those who are frightened by the moment, remind them that God has not forgotten about them. Let us help friends, neighbors, and acquaintances to stay calm during the crisis moments they are experiencing now. Let us remember and remind one another to be Thankful for all the gifts God has given us. Encourage one another to avoid situations where one can be drawn into temptation and overtaken by doubt. Above all we must know that life is to be lived not of our own strength, but through God’s power.
Dr. Herbert Simmons, Jr. is an associate Professor, Department of Criminal Justice, Grambling State University, former President, Grambling State University Faculty Senate and former Chair, Department of Consumer Education and Resource Management, Howard University, Washington, D.C.