November is one of my favorite times of year. It is the time before the hustle and bustle of Christmas, Advent and holiday cheer. Sure, i  is  the time when the days get colder (and shorter!) but the forests around us are still a kaleidoscope of color as winter settles in to the Klamath Basin.

                As we enter this month, we are still dealing with the reality of COVID-19 (the Governor has extended the state of Emergency at least until January). We feel the COVID fatigue even as we are still adjusting to the new reality of social distancing and mask wearing. In the first few of days of this month, we will have the most contentious election in our modern history and the divide between Right and Left appears worrisome. And Southern Oregon is still reeling from the reality of wildfire that destroyed homes and scarred the landscape.

                But November is the month we celebrate Thanksgiving. Over turkey with all the trimmings, before our minds are a fog in a tryptophan haze, and dull roar of the game on TV lulls us to sleep, we will pause and remember the ways in which God has taken care of us. And we will return thanks.

                In 1 Thessalonians, Paul exhorts us, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:18). Paul doesn’t tell us to give thanks for all circumstances, but to give thanks in all circumstances.

                This month, as we turn our hearts in gratitude toward God, we do so, noting that a lot of what we have carried through this year has not felt like a gift. National turmoil, the threat of political and racial violence, a global pandemic, and the isolation of social distancing has taken a toll on all of us. Many of us have also weathered person storms—worries about finances, failing health, the death of a loved one. These things are not gifts to be thankful for. And yet, in even these circumstances God has remained our constant companion, our refuge, our comfort.

                Were there moments this year, when you felt anxious and turned to God and felt a sense of peace? Were the times that you felt the Spirit invite you into deeper communion with God? Were their friends and family members who reached out to you because they knew of the hard times you were facing? Did you experience God’s provision for you in ways you didn’t expect or imagine? Were there times that you felt loved? By God? By others?

                Life has been difficult, and we don’t know all that lies ahead for us. But this is precisely why this is a good time to focus on the things we are grateful for. God has taken care of us and will continue to do so!