I believe I would be correct in stating that there is no one who has not been affected or touched in some way by the pandemic. People, we must continue to pray fervently that God will endow mankind with the wisdom, knowledge, and wherewithal to produce a safe and effective vaccine or cure that will deliver the nation from the scourge of COVID 19 and enable world populations to get through this pandemic. We have seen or stood at the grave side with grieving family’s member as they said goodbye and laid loved ones to rest. Hospitals across the nation are once again filled with COVID patients, and with makeshift morgues located nearby to receive the deceased. Too many people have lost loved ones to the virus, many of our friends and supporters have stood at the grave side with family members as they bid farewell to loved ones. For those of us who remain and have been blessed to witness the dawning of a new day with more health than sickness, having presence of mind and thoughts, equipped with the ability and strength to move about, have a morsel of bread to eat, and raiment’s to clothe our bodies, a few dollars to spare, a roof over our heads, to attend church of choice without fear of death, arrest or persecution, we have much to be thankful for, even during this pandemic. Though our patience is being tested beyond the boundaries of our faith and hope, we have to hang in there, and though our strength gets a little weak, our backs may be against the wall, trusted friends may turn and walk away, hang on, hang on in there!!
This Thanksgiving my wife Jan and I took some time to visit with our son Zachary in New Orleans. Out of fear and respect for COVID 19 and for fellow citizens we stayed indoors most of the visit, watching television, dining on good food, fellowshipping and giving thanks. We asked that Zach be tested for the virus before we arrived which he did. We always wore our masks during outings. Jan had prepared a delightful meal earlier in the week which we took with us to New Orleans. It was a wonderful visit, and we enjoyed the quiet time together.
As I reflected upon God’s goodness, mercy, and grace, how we traveled the dangerous highways to New Orleans without incident, how in my senior years and in the twilight of life I am still able to get out of bed each morning, (although at times lacking clarity of mind, strength of body and soul) how both Jan and I have made it through several illnesses including bouts with cancer, how we were able to experience the breaking and dawning of a new day, how God has blessed us to see our children graduate from college and professional school and are now able to fend for themselves. I reflected on how we were able to hang in there when our backs were against the wall, when we needed a little grace and our faith was tested, how we were able to hang in there!! I could not help but reflect upon the times when we were blessed to overcome many of life’s challenges and disappointments, especially when critics and circumstances indicated that failure and defeat was our destiny. In those moments of reflection and being overcome emotionally, I had to confess that it was only by God’s grace and mercy that we are still standing, and that God’s grace and mercy has always been sufficient and more than enough to see us through.
Equally concerning, I also reflected upon the mean and ugly allegations that were brought against Jan several years ago, the innuendoes, the under-breath comments, the slander and deliberate acts instituted against us by known adversaries whose intentions were to persecute, oppress and destroy us for trying to make a difference in the lives of God’s people. I well remember how God delivered us from the hands of our enemies. We learned of the rumors that we would never succeed in our effort and attempts to liberate and make a difference in the lives of people in Jonesboro. Thanks be to God we have done a whole lot of good and will not retreat in our commitment to continue to do some good. We were blessed and given the strength, courage, and fortitude to stand upright and stay focused and to trust and believe God’s promises.
We were able to hang on in there, to keep the forward look and commit to never give up or quit the race of life or to give up on our ministry to touch and provide hope to communities throughout northeast Louisiana! Yes, we are grateful and thankful for the ability and wherewithal to hang on in there!! Throughout the night and each day that I arise, I give God praise, glory, and thanksgiving for enabling us to hang on and hang on in there. Walter Hawkins in a song entitled Thank you Lord said it this way; “It could have been me outdoors with no shoes and no clothes, just another number with a tragic end.” WC Martin and Chas. H Gabriel nailed it this way; “Trust in God wherever you may be, upon on the land or on the rolling sea, for come what may, from day to day, our heavenly father watches over us”.
Whatever you may be facing in this season, just keep looking ahead to a season where laughter, peace, prosperity, and joy will fill your space once again. And when your faith begins to flicker as it will at times , when you lack the strength to keep moving, when your back is against the wall and you can’t see your way through the fog of disappointment and uncertainty, when COVID 19 has taken a tremendous toll on you and your family, and when you are faced with a multitude of problems, trust God and pray for a little more grace to help you hang in there and see you through!! Be thankful and “hang in there!!
Dr. Herbert Simmons, Jr. is an associate Professor, Department of Criminal Justice, Grambling State University, former President, Grambling State University Faculty Senate and former Chair, Department of Consumer Education and Resource Management, Howard University, Washington, D.C.