To say that 2020 has been a bit of a dumpster fire would be, I think we can all agree, a bit of an under- statement. And yet, in spite of a world-wide pandemic, fall seems to have ushered in a new feeling, a different attitude, perhaps. It seems, to me at least, as if fear has given way to hope and gratitude. And as a Christian, commanded in 1Thessalonians 5:18 to “give thanks in everything,” I find that incredibly appropriate.

And so, right at the beginning of perhaps the most pleasant season of the year, with the leaves exploding into vibrant color and a cool nip in the air heralding the onset of pumpkin spice everything, please allow me to give you my happy take on things.

I am grateful that the stock market is now in positive territory for 2020. Earlier this year the market, and with it the retirement accounts, the life savings of most Americans, dropped nearly 40% in a matter of days. That could well have ushered in a new Great Depression. But instead, Americans everywhere have seen all of those losses utterly erased, and gains added on top of where they were before the losses. This is cause for celebration and for thankfulness from all of us.

I am grateful that the projected 2.2 million deaths in America due to the coronavirus has nowhere near materialized, due to efforts to drastically stem that tide. I mourn the more than 200,000 who have died, but am utterly, incomprehensibly grateful at the nearly 2 million who have been saved thus far. That is not just a statistic; it is children who still have their mothers and fathers, husbands who still have their wives, wives who still have their husbands, and parents who can still hug their babies. (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/world/europe/coronavirus-imperial-college-johnson.html)

I am grateful that the economy is reopening, people are going back to work, and restaurants are now dining indoors in most places. The people we all interact with on a daily basis are not strangers to us after a while; they become friends. My Spanish suffered a bit after months of not being able to go to the local Mexican restaurants. I missed everyone of the people who work there and am so glad to be able to see them again, and, of course, to get fresh guacamole and sizzling fajitas.

I am grateful that our church and others are starting to fill up again. No online services will ever be able to compare to the fellowship of the saints and the corporate worship of our King.

I am grateful that college football is back in business.

I am grateful that gyms are reopening.

I am grateful that a precious little girl in my church saw a pretty red maple leaf on the ground, and immediately picked it up, brought it to church, and gave it to me as a gift. I laminated it and have it sitting on my desk, and I think of her and pray for her each time I look at it.

I am grateful that a very dear friend of mine was told that he had a fatal disease, but after a few weeks of everyone praying, when he went back to the doctor the verdict was “Nope, you are fine.” Mind you, his taste in college football teams is terrible, but he is a friend nonetheless, and I am so grateful he is OK.

I am grateful that President Trump thrashed covid. Hearing that the leader of the free world is at risk of dying brings back bad memories of the day Ronald Reagan was shot. Hearing that he is 100% recovered is a wonderful thing.

I am grateful that peace is currently taking hold across the Middle East and in other places. The Abraham Accords, warming relations between Israel, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, and the peace accords between former Balkan War enemies Kosovo and Serbia are amazing developments. I have seen bumper stickers my entire life saying “give peace a chance,” and it seems that right now people are actually doing so.

I am grateful that Christmas is just right around the corner. Bring on the carols, the nativity sets, the Christmas plays, the egg nog, the Rudolph claymation special, the Muppet Christmas Carol, the trees and lights, the gifts, I love it all. Nothing drowns out the noise of a fading pandemic and all of its craziness like new fallen snow, sleds racing down an icy hill, and families meeting together to carve the turkey and give thanks to our very good God who has brought us from darkness into light, in more ways than one.

Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at 2knowhim@cbc-web.org.