I recently visited the Central Business District, commonly known as “town.” I almost couldn’t recognise the buildings. They looked run down and the glow they had a few months ago was no more. Shops have closed down. Vehicle and human traffic was noticeably absent. Street families have resumed full swing with the older boys strategically positioned to beg.
People have lost jobs. As I passed by a newspaper shop looking to buy an old magazine, the vendor noticed I was looking sad. With a heavy Kamba accent, he said “In all circumstances we give God thanks,” then handed me a real estate construction magazine. I left with his words lingering in my mind I looked for a trash bin but couldn’t find one.
Uzziah was made King of Judah at age 16. He had a successful reign of 52 years. He was good in war and peace, planning and execution. He had rebuilt Elath and restored it to Judah. The Bible talks about God granting him success as long as he consulted the Lord. His fame spread far and wide. He however became prideful and this led to his downfall. He took the role of a priest burning incense in the temple; a duty meant for the descendants of Aaron. God struck him leprosy on his forehead and he lived in isolation and pain till his death. Despite having had a successful reign, his lack of gratitude gave room for pride to take root.
The Israelite people lived in Egypt for 430 years. One night, Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested” (Exodus 12:31). That marked the beginning of their journey to the Promised Land. Due to a lack of gratitude, they complained a lot; about their hardships, about Moses’ and Aaron’s authority and leadership, about the lack of water, that God and Moses brought them into the desert and so forth.
One conspicuous complaint was about the lack of meat. They remembered the fish they ate in Egypt at no cost, the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. They couldn’t stand the manna God provided day in and day out. In fact, they claimed they had lost appetite. The Israelites became dissatisfied because they shifted their attention from what they had to what they didn’t have. They forgot God had set them free, made them a nation and gave them new land.
Before we judge King Uzziah and the Israelites too harshly, let’s remember that it is easy to lose focus of the good in the midst of COVID-19: focusing on what is not going right. Many are consumed with the need to have this season pass quickly so that we resume our normal lives. Maybe we are guilty of lacking gratitude and that has made us focus on our unfulfilled desires. We have sinned because we might have forgotten to see what God has blessed us with: life, food, health, ministry, gift of eternal life, family and friends.
Lack of gratitude will make us complain about our problems instead of praying to God about them. We will lust after things we do not have. Currently people are blaming China for this virus and the government for the troubles of COVID-19. We might have looked at life as a glass half empty and not half full. Most importantly we have failed to recognise that our problems are from human disobedience. God awaits us to repent of the sin of ingratitude and refresh our hearts with thankfulness. Jesus healed ten lepers on his way to Jerusalem but only one chose to go back and thank him.
Wondering how to be thankful? Hebrews 12:28 guides us: “Therefore since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” We can be grateful to God because He answers our prayers. He has been providing for our needs. He has blessed us. We can thank Him for His character and wondrous works. We can thank Him for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
God willing, this COVID-19 will end soon. Eventually we might even forget the harshness of it and what we have lost. In Deuteronomy 6:10-12 God warns us that when we have eaten and are full, then beware, lest we forget the Lord Who brought us out of this season. Choose gratitude. Amen!
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