I’m very aware that Thanksgiving is past and that we are now steaming full bore toward Christmas. Nevertheless, I must share some words of gratitude for the last few weeks.

As some readers may know, after months of vigilant mask wearing, sanitizing, and distancing, somehow the minute invader made its way through my defenses and I tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 18. I entered mandatory isolation for the next two weeks and in the meantime, my wife also tested positive and we have both been cut off from the rest of the world. Even though the first few days were less severe, the week of Thanksgiving was particularly difficult for both of us.

We had stocked up on various supplies beforehand, but neither of us anticipated how much energy this virus drains from your system. Thankfully, between our daughter, my sister, and some folks from our church, we received meals, medicines, and abundant offers to help. Where would we be without family, church, and friends?

As word spread, texts, emails, calls, cards, Facebook messages and more started rolling in with well wishes, and more importantly assurances of prayers. Our church held a special prayer and anointing session for us even in our absence for which we are very grateful and after which we noticed marked improvement.

We have also been blessed by health care providers who took a personal interest and reached out to deliver encouragement and advice. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nancy drove us both to the Woodstock Emergency Room to be sure we weren’t developing complications.

As we entered, we found several dedicated professionals waiting for us. We felt bad about possibly exposing them to this nasty illness but they were more than happy to serve us and see to our comfort. After various tests, we were both released to continue recovery at home. I’m sure that larger hospitals have their own strengths, but it’s hard to imagine any better or more personal care than we received at Shenandoah Memorial.

As we pulled back into our driveway, we were surprised to find several yard signs of encouragement left by our church family. “We Love You,” “Get well soon!” and even one that read, “Cat’s Rule.” (That last one falls into the Fake News and Propaganda category.)

In addition, my fellow staff members at the church stepped up to cover all the bases and keep things running smoothly there. Special thanks to Becky Leland, Dale Bennett, and Matt Helsley. I’m also very appreciative for Brother Kent Jeter and our son, Allen, for preaching the last three Sundays and for those in the sound booth who streamed each service so we could worship from home with the rest of the congregation.

We’re also very grateful for lightning fast progress on vaccines and their anticipated administration as early as next week. Thanks to the researchers for their tireless efforts and for God guiding and directing their work. Hopefully these will all enable us to return to some normalcy in the next couple months and spare others the misery and discomfort we endured.

Of course our highest appreciation goes to God for hearing and answering our prayers. In addition to healing and raising us up, He’s also the one who has given all the people and blessings mentioned above. In addition, he shielded Nancy’s mother from becoming infected in spite of the fact that she lives with us. We’ve kept her isolated and she has remained healthy and strong throughout our struggles.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” So even though we may not be thankful for the virus and it’s symptoms, there is still much to be thankful for in the midst of it. Please continue to wear your mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands and be grateful for all the blessings God has surrounded you with. We’ll get through this. Blessings, George

George Bowers is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored 16 books, including "Blessings Volume 3," which is a collection of these articles. It is available at Four Star Printing and Shenandoah Stuff. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at gabowers@shentel.net.