By KRISTINE SCHROEDER
I believe it is safe to say that this had been a difficult year for everyone. COVID has brought us a slew of problems besides the actual illness itself. People have lost their job; loved ones have been isolated; families disagree about how to handle the illness; unemployment continues to be a problem; and the greatest sadness of the entire pandemic: many families have lost loved ones. That sorrow was often magnified by our inability to gather with family and friends in a loving group to share our stories and feelings. The pandemic alone was enough to leave us feeling discouraged, disheartened and sometimes even defeated.
Enter the election. Media coverage seemed to be constant and slanted one way or another. Due to the seemingly polar opposite views, it was hard to glean the truth about the candidates from what was being reported. We were left in a greater state of confusion than before the report. We were also barraged by endless negative political ads toward the said opponents. And, if the election results and the racial riots are any indications of the divisiveness in our country, it appears we have much healing to do.
The devil is in his playground. All this despair, fear and discouragement makes us vulnerable to a weakening or loss of faith. However, we must continue to remain steadfast and trust the Lord. We can counteract the persistent efforts of the Evil One by continuing to pray, read Scripture, attend church and do works of mercy.
Remember, the upbeat news in all of this apparently desultory time is that Jesus is available to us 24/7. When we persistently ask for help from the Trinity, our reward will be the gifts (or our weapons in this spiritual battle) of the Holy Spirit. They are wisdom, understanding, mercy, knowledge, fortitude, holiness and awe of the Lord. With those spiritual blessings available for the asking, the devil fights a losing battle.
Our focus here on earth remains our final destination: heaven. Like Paul, we must run the race, stay true to the course, be persistent in the face of trials. We can do that only with God’s help knowing that our reward will be greater than anything the world can offer. I suggest one more gift that will help us during our struggles: the gift of gratitude.
Here are some of the blessings I am grateful for:
- the many beautiful, sunny fall days we have had
- churches opening and priests and religious who serve us in our spiritual needs
- schools opening and for principals, teachers and staff who labor long and hard to make learning enjoyable in such a trying time
- that children have experienced a sense of normalcy in their everyday lives through school, sports and other activities
- for farmers, butchers, bakers, food processors and all of those people who keep food on our tables
- for nurses, doctors, patient aides, policemen, firemen, social workers and people who risk illness so that we can be healthy in mind and body
- for postmen, factory workers, store clerks, sanitation workers and others who continue to work so that our daily life runs smoothly
- for the answers we received to many of our prayers
- for all the unnoticed miracles and joys that God places in our lives each day
- for our families, friends and even strangers that sustain us
- for Jesus, who died so that we are saved
- that the tomb is empty and that God alone will win the battle. Evil will be destroyed.
The list is endless, but I will finish by thanking my readers for allowing me to share this. I, myself, often need that encouragement. May God bless you with a joyful Thanksgiving spent with loved ones. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.