Can We Be Grateful?
When you hear “coronavirus” or “COVID-19,” you probably think of words like fear, disruption, recession, sick, death, inconvenient, and maybe even China.
What if every time you hear “coronavirus,” you automatically think “gratitude?”
How do you feel when you feel grateful?
Most people associate feeling grateful with relief, appreciation, happiness, joy, and safety. Good feelings.
Now, why are you grateful for coronavirus?
That’s completely up to you. But I bet you can list just two reasons for being grateful for coronavirus. I can think of two, just like that:
Coronavirus gives me a chance to will the good of others.
My dogs are happy to have their people home with them all day.
To Will the Good of Others #
I’ve mentioned before that theological love (or, better, charity) is to will the good of others.
We should actually say, “charity is to will the good of other for God’s sake.” We don’t will the good of others for our own sakes or even primarily for their sakes. We will good for others for the sake of God Who made and loves them and wills their good and ours.
But willing the good of others for God’s sake doesn’t prohibit also willing their good for their sakes. And aligning our will to God’s is also in our best interests.
If you’re thinking, “it shouldn’t take a pandemic for people to will the good of others,” you’re right. It shouldn’t. But, sometimes with some people it does. I feel for other more today than I did two weeks when I was too busy feeling sorry for myself.
So, I’m feeling guilty for being selfish but also grateful that something slapped me into a more selfless state.
If you haven’t thought of two reasons to feel grateful, you’re welcome to borrow this one. It’s okay to thank God that you feel more love for others.
Dogs Like Their People Being Home #
Our dogs show so much joy anyone in our family comes home. My step-daughter is married and comes over only once every couple of months. Every time she does, the dogs carry on like a a dog-treat truck overturned in the driveway. They do the same on the rare occasions that my sons in the Navy come home on leave.
And they protect me when I’m napping:
Imagine, then, how heartbroken Stella and Coco are when everybody leaves in the morning. Their little bobbed tails between their legs. Their ears pressed down against their little doggie skulls.
Now, imagine how satisfied these dogs are that their family never leaves the house!
God made dogs and made them a special companion for people. I believe that dogs teach us how to love God and, in an infinitely small way, how God loves us. Being forced to spend more time with our dogs seems like an opportunity to know God’s will better. And that’s another reason to be grateful.
Gratitude and Grief and not Mutually Exclusive #
A person can be grateful while grieving. It’s even okay to be grateful for grief. Without grief, we cannot truly feel remorse. Grief is profound loss and it reminds us of the deepest and worst possible loss—the loss of communion with God.
My family recently lost a very special member. She was the eldest sibling, a mother, a grandmother, a biker, and a banker. She was too young to go, and her decline was terrifyingly rapid.
Yet, at her Irish wake, the most frequent emotional expressions were about gratitude. Gratitude for having known her, gratitude that, though her suffering was intense, it was relatively short. Gratitude that, even in death, she was able pull us together for a party.
Grief and gratitude aren’t opposites, but partners in life. Partners that fulfill the human experience the way Christ’s crucification and death (grief) were necessary for His resurrection and glorious ascension (gratitude).
In our grief over the loss of treasure, pleasure, and even life, let’s not neglect the need to recognize our gratitude to God. Even in these dark times God showers us with gifts—gifts that seem all the sweeter for the grief that surrounds them.