We’re counting the many blessings God has given us in a difficult year

From Samaritan Leadership  ·  Oct 26, 2020

This has been a most unusual and challenging year.

As we approach the time of year that our country has historically set aside to express gratitude, it may be more challenging than usual to feel thankful with the profound effects of COVID-19 and the ongoing national disruption. Yet, in many ways, we face the same type of tension in 2020 that we always do. On the one hand, it is easy to count many blessings; we are indeed still a very fortunate people with so many good things that are easy to take for granted. On the other hand, we face the trials—sometimes even overwhelming ones—of living in a fallen world.

We must deliberately choose to do by faith what the Apostle Paul says is God’s will for us: “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

As the leaders of Samaritan Ministries, some amazing blessings easily come to mind. We think immediately of  what a privilege it is to serve you, the members of Samaritan Ministries International. You are great examples of faith and an inspiration to us. Every day we hear stories of your perseverance through difficult  trials, and your trust in God’s faithfulness and goodness is exemplary. You work hard to steward the Lord’s resources in this community, all while going through these trials! We all know how difficult navigating the health care industry can be, and yet you work through those challenges with grace.

We see Jesus in you and that gives us such hope, not only for Samaritan Ministries but also for what God is doing throughout His Church.

Your enthusiastic participation in our Samaritan Ministries Community Facebook Group is another blessing that is easy to give thanks for this year. More than 4,700 members in this group are learning from one another and encouraging one another on a variety of topics, from dealing with health care providers and good health practices to applying faith to life’s many challenges. It has been a great encouragement to see the Body of Christ in action in this new way. If you haven’t joined yet, you’re missing out on a wonderful blessing!

It is also easy to give thanks for our strategic relationship with Healthcare Bluebook that has borne fruit in new ways this year. We are grateful for Healthcare Bluebook’s ability to leverage data that gives power back to patients in a system that far too often lacks transparency. We are so thankful members have enthusiastically engaged in our new fair-price reward initiative, already saving more than $2 million since July 1!

We are also very thankful that this month we are seeing the official public release of our newest sharing program, Samaritan Given. For many years, members have requested a completely online billing and sharing experience, including a mobile phone app, and we are thankful to God that we’ve been able to launch it. We are encouraged to see that there were more than 500 new starts in Samaritan Given in October.

'In all circumstances …'

Looking back on 2020, there were also some very difficult times, starting with the challenges that COVID-19 brought. But we thank God for His sovereign and good purposes even for the difficult circumstances, and we ask Him for eyes of faith to see those purposes unfolding.

When the COVID-19 social distancing regulations hit, like so many other organizations, we faced the severe restrictions on in-person work. We’re thankful that God had already been leading us to develop our remote workforce infrastructure. By His grace, in less than one week we were able to transition 90 percent of our staff to work remotely both safely and securely. We’re thankful for all the hard work our IT team put in so that we could keep serving members without interruption. We’re grateful that you were gracious with us as we made adjustments to how we serve you, including in our request that you utilize more self-service options on the Samaritan Dashboard.

As if COVID-19 weren’t enough, for the first half of 2020 this Samaritan community faced an ever-widening gap between bills submitted and available Shares. At the same time, many members were experiencing financial difficulty because of COVID-19.

We see Jesus in you and that gives us such hope, not only for Samaritan Ministries but also for what God is doing throughout His Church.

According to our historical pattern, when facing a trend of more bills submitted than available Shares, we would normally have prorated during March, April, May, and June. In recognition of the significant COVID-induced disruptions in our health care system, economy, and lives, we implemented contingency plans, including directing $1.5 million in administrative funds toward Needs. We also extended the time allowed for negotiations on Needs, but the total amount in negotiation rose to $15 million.

We proposed a Share increase in July for Classic and then experienced what turned out to be the most dramatic decline in Need submissions that we have seen in Samaritan’s 26-year history. Not only were we able to finalize negotiations on most Needs from previous months, but in August, September, and October there were enough Shares to meet all the Needs. Praise be to God! As we head into the holidays, please do remember to submit your bills in a timely fashion, so that we can wisely utilize this opportunity and the available Shares with which God has blessed us.

We’re thankful for how members are facing these challenging times in faith. We’re thankful for how you have engaged on the issues with good questions and very helpful feedback. We’re thankful we’ve caught up on sharing one another’s burdens. We’re thankful that, even if we face a post-COVID surge of bills in the future, we can address that challenge together as the Body of Christ. We’re thankful that COVID-19 has caused us to take a closer look at our administrative budget for more ways to conserve.

And, as hard as it may be at times, we’re thankful that in His love God prunes His people and this ministry, but He does so in order to prepare each of us for a new season of greater fruitfulness (John 15:1-11).

Even though 2020 hasn’t gone as any of us would have preferred, by God’s grace we will persevere in faith and give God the glory. Indeed, we have so much to be thankful for. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, we need to go beyond counting our earthly blessings and remember the spiritual riches that are ours in Christ:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Ephesians 1:3-10

We pray that each of our celebrations of Thanksgiving with family, friends, and local churches would strengthen our faith and remind us of the numerous blessings God has graciously given us.