Thanksgiving When Life Stinks

A little over a decade ago, my family celebrated a somber Thanksgiving. My grandpa joined us because it would be his first holiday without his wife of almost 50 years. That year, we didn’t make lists of everything we were thankful for. We tried to pray “We thank Thee for food and remember the hungry,” but it rang hallow. We were heartbroken at the recent loss of a grandmother, mother, wife, and friend and there was little else for it.

It seems to me that many Thanksgiving messages are about making “thankful lists” and comparing ourselves with all the starving kids in Africa. Yes, we are much better off than most of the world (physically at least), but focusing on that fact isn’t always the best way promote gratitude. Sometimes you can have all the stuff, but still be miserable.

Here’s another approach to gratitude. Thanksgiving begins as an act of faith in God’s goodness, regardless of your circumstances. It isn’t about what you have but the One holds you.

“…thanksgiving marks the dividing line between belief and unbelief…” R. P. Meye

When Paul wrote “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28), he wasn’t saying that all things are good but that God will transform even the darkest nights into glory. And for that we can be grateful.

“They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.” C. S. Lewis

Are you in a good season right now? Enjoy it and be thankful. Are you in a dark season? Seek God’s help and comfort from your community and be thankful for what God is doing in the night.

This Thanksgiving, may God strengthen your faith in his goodness and may that bear the fruit of gratitude.

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