Showing gratitude for first responders

Gratitude and survival

I’ve written about being grateful in hard times, but this year has stretched our patience and endurance. There is not a person who has not been affected in some way by the multiple crises we’ve faced this year. And we know the worst is to come. With increased infections and deaths, reinstated restrictions, political uncertainty and divisiveness, and overall exhaustion, it seems next to impossible to find any reason to be thankful—especially when we can’t celebrate Thanksgiving with our loved ones.

But even this year, it is necessary to give thanks.

The signs of gratitude are everywhere. At a shopping mall, the owners used one of the boarded up storefronts to create a gratitude wall where people can express their thanks to the first responders who have helped during the pandemic. Shopping malls have been in decline for the past 10–15 years, and the pandemic has accelerated their collapse. But this mall turned what would be the depressing sight of an empty storefront to a bright show of appreciation. A bit of color to cut through the bleakness of the time.

The wife of one of my high school friends had a lung transplant. We’ve been following her daily progress as she has been taken off tubes and started eating and walking again. This life-threatening experience has made them closer, and he expresses his love for her every day.

Another high school friend suffered the most horrible experience anyone could face—her granddaughter died. She and her family have strengthened their family bonds and faith to help them get through their heartbreak.

Closer to home, my daughter is back to work after her car accidents. She keeps a good attitude as she deals with insurance. “I’ve already faced my worst-case scenario,” she told me. “I almost died.”

Gratitude is how we get through difficult times. We realize there is something we can be grateful for, even if it is only that we’re alive. When we find things to be thankful for, we find things that can sustain us. The support of friends. The enjoyment of small pleasures. The love of family. The knowledge that our current problems will come to a resolution. The understanding that bad times are not forever, and better days will come again.

Times like these require all of our patience and endurance. These can come from gratitude. We can find something, no matter how small, that we can appreciate. When we do, we remember that life is worth the struggle. Let us give thanks that we’ve made it this far, and let us keep the faith that we can get through the hardships ahead. Better days will come.