2020 has been an extremely challenging year for almost everyone across the globe. Last year at this time, we were hearing rumors of a new Coronavirus which was wreaking havoc in China. Most of us never dreamed it would arrive in the United States, much less spread like wildfire and cause so much unimaginable sickness and death. Thankfully, scientists took notice and started working immediately on a vaccine. On December 11, 2020, we saw all their tremendous and painstaking hard work rewarded!  The FDA approved for emergency use, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.  A week later, Moderna’s vaccine was also given emergency approval! Not only do we have 2 vaccines that dramatically improve our immunity to COVID-19, but they have also been shown to be almost 95% effective. What a gift! A Christmas Miracle many would say, but without a doubt, a tremendous Christmas blessing!

We have watched as our frontline healthcare providers continue to work week after week to the point of exhaustion. Unbelievably, they still keep forging ahead to take care of patients sick with COVID-19. Grievously, we have watched the news and seen hundreds of frontline healthcare providers get sick with this nasty virus and many have died. Furthermore, the vast amount of healthcare providers have put their own fears, exhaustion, and grief over not being with their loved ones, on the back burner as they continue to diligently take care of us and our loved ones.

Over the last week, some of these same frontline healthcare providers have received the initial vaccine injection needed to provide immunity to COVID-19, we have watched and celebrated with them. Again, can we call it any less than a Christmas blessing? Governor Cooper (NC) in his briefing on COVID-19 Tuesday afternoon, related observing frontline healthcare providers at Duke receiving the vaccine. Smiling, he commented that the most common side effect he saw was Joy! Imagine how it must feel to have been risking your life taking care of COVID-19 patients for the last 9 months and now, this week, to receive this vaccine that promises so much hope! A Christmas Blessing, indeed!

As I ponder on this Christmas season, I can’t help but compare the time surrounding the birth of Jesus to the times we are living in now. Jesus who many believe to be the son of God and our savior was born into a very perilous time. We are told that King Herod, representative of the Roman Empire in Judea, was so jealous of Jesus that he planned to kill all the male children born at that time, in and around Jerusalem to ensure Jesus would not survive. After being warned by an angel, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus fled to Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath. God made a way and spared Jesus.

Likewise, these vaccines have been provided at a time when many are extremely weary and desperate for help in the war against COVID-19. Even though as a nation, we continue to experience much difficulty in our war with COVID-19, as Christmas 2020 approaches, the approval of these two vaccines to aid in our fight against COVID-19, gives us much to be grateful for. We have much hope and joy because of this amazing Christmas Blessing!