Spectacular fall colors, warm apple desserts, and spiced-aroma candles. What’s not to love?  Whether my grandsons and I drink hot cider and eat donuts on my screened porch, or I enjoy my personal time under a warm blanket reading a good book, surrounded by the sights and smells of fall, I’m in a happy place.

                 As the leaves began to change and I was greeted by a raining day, my mind turned to baking pumpkin bread. With my weekly shopping list in hand I went to one supermarket only to find the shelf that housed pumpkin was bear. I waited until the next week and the same was true in two different supermarkets. Sure that I had missed the usual baking displays, I approached a store clerk to ask. He told me I’m not alone in that request. Shoppers had purchased the canned pumpkin earlier –at the start of COVID-19, along with the rush on paper products. Stores are waiting for the crop to be picked, processed, and shipped. Another unprecedented experience in 2020.

No pumpkin. Strange. What if we won’t have pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving?  It’s first world problem I know, but I asked myself that question.

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We’ve asked and continue to ask many  “what if” questions-more serious than pumpkin pie. We are entering another season that looks different. Our cozy, colorful, and warm autumn picture may have a chilly and cloudy cast.

What if there’s no opportunity to be with family due to COVID-19 restrictions on travel?  Family gatherings look different. Unless I want to quarantine in NY for 14 days and be tested before and after I travel, I can’t fly to see family in NY.  My family may have pumpkin pie without me.

What if grief, already exaggerated in this season, is met with fewer face to face contacts and hugs?  The grief support group I facilitate has been cancelled twice because our church closed due to COVID-19. At a time when grievers especially need face to face support even at a 6-foot distance, we meet by text and phone. Pumpkin pie is not served.

What if the usual Christmas concerts, holiday parties, and children’s programs are canceled this season?

What if there’s no pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving?

The prophet Habakkuk in the OT answers that  “what if” question when he says,

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, (and no pumpkin pie, or travel, or events, or…), yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength, he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV

And the apostle Paul adds to that when he says, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4: 11-12 NIV

So what if?

  • What if I renewed my focus during the closing weeks of 2020?
  • What if I monitored my thinking?
  • What if I intentionally used positive words in my self-talk?
  • What if I followed Habakkuk and the apostle Paul’s reminders?

Then… We can live in contentment because we can draw on God’s promises to stay the course, live in His strength, and remember Peter’s words in 2 Peter 1:3 (NLT) By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.

What if? What are your strategies to answer that question with “then”? 

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