“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, KJV)

I don’t know about you, but that verse challenges me. Is it possible to give thanks in all circumstances? Some things don’t exactly induce gratitude.

Take the coronavirus, for example. Can anything good come from it?

Four months ago, my wife, Debbie, came home from the doctor’s office with a forlorn expression on her otherwise joyful face. “I need to isolate from you and be tested for Covid.”

I wasn’t sure what to say, but her sad look required a response. “You’ll be okay.” But would she? Who knew? Denial can be an elixir for the anxious heart.

When the results finally came back, she tested positive, as did I. If your spouse has had Covid but you haven’t, then you’re either fortunate, a freak of nature, or in need of marital counseling.

“Take Zinc and Vitamin D,” her doctor said. “And a baby aspirin at bedtime to mitigate the risk of blood clots. If your temperature reaches 103 or your oxygen dips to 92, go to the emergency room.” We purchased an oximeter and some supplements and hunkered down.

At age 62, Debbie and I were in good health, beneficiaries of thousands of miles bicycling America. My doctor’s nurse tried to reassure me. “This will probably be nothing.”

The following month brought a variety of symptoms in either of us: headache, fever, chills, body aches, nausea, diarrhea, loss of taste and smell, dry cough, wheeze, chest discomfort, malaise, weight loss, emotional breakdowns, itching in the extremities, and, last but hardly least, fatigue. Trust me. The coronavirus isn’t your ordinary flu. It comes with ups and downs. At its height, we slept ten hours a night while doing nothing to warrant it. Will my novel ever get finished if I’m not here to do it? I mused.

After a month, we thought we were in the clear, but a bicycle spin around the neighborhood took its toll. Entering week six, we tried again. Our usual ride of 30 miles caused a relapse. Eventually, I tried steroids and additional supplements.

Three months later, Debbie seems better, but the lingering effects of Covid nag me, from respiratory issues to mysterious sensations in the hands and feet. I guess that makes me a Covid “long hauler,” long-term effects unknown. I remain on an increased regimen of supplements.

Though our ponderings amid uncertainty suggested our lives could be in peril, we never had trouble breathing. We survived while others did not, and we avoided isolation in the hospital. I’m grateful.

Tragically, other lives were cut short, unfulfilled dreams and grieving loved ones left in their wake. Those lives could’ve been ours. As sad as those losses are, they’re a stark reminder that God has allowed Debbie and me more time to do what He asks of us. With heightened urgency, may we make a difference while we still can.

Hardships do bring blessings, thanks to a renewed perspective. Recognizing my mortality engendered gratitude. And in slowing down, we regrouped. We leaned harder on one another, deepening our union and rediscovering the gift of each other. May we never again take for granted what was stripped from us: community, fellowship, health, and the wherewithal to enjoy them.

This Thanksgiving, hold close your loved ones and feast on life. Both will be gone relatively soon. Resolve to make the most of the time you have left.

Copyright © 2020 Tim Bishop, used with permission.