“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”

– Psalm 103:2

As this year we’d like to forget winds down, what will you choose to remember about it?

There are certainly plenty of negative thoughts about this year that will be hard to get out of our minds, starting with the pandemic, especially since they don’t occur all that often. Yes, we had the H1N1 flu as recent as 2009, but the effect of it wasn’t close to the scale of COVID-19, which has caused more than 290,000 deaths in our country compared to almost 12,500 linked to H1N1.

Will your focus be on the number of jobs lost as businesses had to scale back and some even shut down permanently as we’ve tried to manage this novel coronavirus? A lot of us are certainly not doing business the same as we were before March and possibly will never be the same again. So the effect of this virus will likely be long-lasting even when we eventually get to the point that we treat it more like the seasonal flu since we will have a vaccination.

Will you dwell on the duel over wearing masks, with something that should have been about trying to protect ourselves and others being turned into a divisive political issue? Health officials say that we should wear them and that should be enough, but to wear or not to wear has been blown out of portion to the point that it will be hard to forget.

Not everything bad about 2020 has been about the coronavirus. We could also choose to remember the Black Lives Matter fervor stirred up when George Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck. Protests and riots over that and other similar incidents stormed through pandemic barriers and led to cries to defund the police and changes to some police procedures.

Or we could choose to remember a bitter presidential election full of things like a childish national debate and claims of election fraud that are not done yet. That political divide that affected mask wearing seems to just continue to get wider.

Perhaps bringing up all these negative things (and there’s certainly more we could list) is not the best way to tell you that they are not the things we should think about when we look back on 2020. Yes, they are impossible to disassociate with this year, and we don’t need to do that. We just need our focus to be on the good.

For me, that starts with worshipping God in the parking lot at the church building in March when we were forced outside because of the virus. That first Sunday was a beautiful spring day, the parking lot was full and the congregation my family is part of united in praising the Creator and thanking him for the many blessings in our lives.

Despite COVID-19, the grass still grew, the flowers still bloomed and the blessings still flowed.

Eventually, this novel coronavirus will pass (and yes, it sadly will have taken a lot of our loved ones with it). We won’t easily forget it, and again we really shouldn’t. We should try to learn from it, not just what we can do better during a pandemic but how we can be better as people and how we need to appreciate the little things – seeing each other’s faces, sharing a smile, sharing a hug or a pat on the back.

We learned different ways to do some of these things, such as drive-by birthday celebrations and visiting with those in nursing homes through windows or doors. We learned to better use technology to share time together when we haven’t been able to do it in person.

Sure, we know the reason we had to learn these things is because of what the coronavirus has done to us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate what we’ve been given instead of choosing to focus on what 2020 took away. What we decide to remember the most is up to us.

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