About 450 years before Christ was born and 500 years after King David’s reign, the book of Chronicles in the Bible was believed to have been written by Ezra for Israel and its people, mainly the returnees from Babylon who lived in exile as slaves for 70 long years. The Chronicles (I&II) revolves around the story of Israelites from the time of Adam to their sojourn to Babylon. From time to time, they had set out to different lands and lived as slaves, but God’s amazing grace and protection carried them through it all. The book of Chronicles was written to reveal to the world the power of God’s Grace and as a reminder of how God’s great love lifted the people of Israel through the many difficult years.
After 70 years in exile, the Israelites returned to their homeland, but were saddened and shattered to see the destruction in their homeland. Everything in the land was destroyed. They were greatly disturbed. Yet, the words encouraged them to give thanks in every situation, remembering what the lord had done for them in the past.
Now, what the country is witnessing today is the return of thousands of stranded to their respective states in train, buses and flights amid the COVID-19 crisis. Our people residing and working in different parts of the country are returning home in several hundreds, batch after batch.
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The returnees to our place may be experiencing the same sadness as did the Israelites who were broken to tears when they returned to their homeland. The situation in our land today is highly depressing. It must be disheartening to find the poor road condition, erratic power supply, the persisting communication network issue and other problems facing the region. Our pitiful situation is worsened by the COVID-19 crisis. And having to stay in a quarantine centre for minimum 14 days as they enter the state coupled with poor arrangement or lack of facilities in some places may have greatly disappointed them.
The journey may have been long and the quarantine centres not so comfortable. Amid the distressing condition, one may forget to thank God for providing a safe journey back to the homeland.
The thoughts of our worldly needs may drive away the mind and heart to worship and praise God for the many blessings amid the dark and challenging times. How can we thank God when times are hard? Some may say thanksgiving can happen after the coronavirus crisis is contained. If we are waiting for Coronavirus to disappear to give thanks to God, we may have to wait forever. The coronavirus is here to stay like other viruses before it. Disease and virus doesn’t disappear in finding the cure and treatment for it.
The pandemic has brought about great change in the world and in our lives. Nothing will be the same anymore. The change in the way we do things, including social distancing and wearing of masks and gloves, will continue. Well, we don’t want change. Change makes us uncomfortable. But we have no option but to change to cope with the changing world scenario caused by the Coronavirus, rather than complaining.
It’s been two-three months since most people have been praying at home in isolation, keeping distance from each other as the churches and places of worship remain closed. But time will come when this too will change. Surely one day, the church buildings will open for worship again. However, there will be drastic change in the way we conduct ourselves - the way we sit, talk and fellowship will never be the same again. There will be change in the way education is imparted and how business and markets will run. You will see change everywhere.
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Amid all kinds of changes in our lives and despite the tough times, God encourages us in the Bible to continue to thank God. Thank God for his great love and goodness, explains Chronicles 16: 34-36. Because God is so good, we are to give thanks. The question persists as life becomes difficult. Why should we give thanks? We must thank God simply because we are his creation of great love. We are his breathe of life. He give us great wisdom and strength to cope with difficulties during tough times. As we experience His goodness, we must rejoice and thank God all the time.
In this unprecedented harsh times brought about by the pandemic, we must continue to live with great thanksgiving in good times as well as bad times. God is constant. His love for us is constant. Once we realized this truth, we will able to thank him all the time.
We have lessons to learn from the Israelites. They thanked God at all times and celebrated significant experiences and victories. During hardships, they accepted the situation as a time of forgiving and praised the lord for drawing them closer to Him. It served as a testimony of God’s greatness to those who would see and understand the significance of such thanksgiving.
We need to recapture the specialness and sacredness of Thanksgiving. Let God’s love and goodness give us joy as we journey through this harsh times of COVID-19 pandemic together.