A Thanksgiving Contemplation

So THANKFUL for my beautiful Mom (center) and Aunts.
Driving home from work Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, my eyes caught the McDonald’s restaurant signboard. They were advertising a “Big Breakfast Thanksgiving morning.” A question quickly came to mind. “Who would go to McDonald’s for this big breakfast Thanksgiving morning?” I answered myself almost immediately, with an envious reflection, “Probably anyone who doesn’t have a ton of cleaning, cooking and baking to do.”

I had worked late, I was tired, and a bit cranky. But then, my thoughts were on to something else. I think I reviewed all the ingredients I purchased earlier, making sure before I drove all the way home, I hadn’t forgotten anything.

To me, Thanksgiving has always been about thanking God for His blessings in my life the past year. However, this morning, I remembered McDonald’s sign and I got to thinking about the people who just might have attended the “Big Breakfast” feast. Were they people who were much more prepared for this “holiday” than I was? Could this have been their Thanksgiving tradition, to have breakfast out before beginning the day’s activities? Or, were they people without family and the “McDonald’s Gang” was their family? Maybe this was the only Thanksgiving celebration they would have that day.  Maybe it’s all they could afford.

My heart grew sad as I thought about the many who may be suffering this holiday season. I wondered what happens when there aren’t any blessings to speak of or when pain, emotional or physical, overshadows the joy.  Some could be alone and destitute.  Some may have lost loved ones since last Thanksgiving and some may have lost jobs or had their income severely cut.  Others could have just received a grave diagnosis and not being here to celebrate next year is all they can think about.  There are a million reasons for someone to be sad on Thanksgiving, yet Thanksgiving exists.  It comes every year on the fourth Thursday of November, like it or not.  It’s possible, just the day’s name evokes sadness for some, instead of joy.  So, how do we celebrate a holiday focusing on giving thanks when we don’t feel very thankful?

If we are true believers, the first thing to keep in mind – this is NOT our home.[1] We are just passing through and compared to an eternity with our Triune God, these years of pain are mere seconds[2]. King David and James liken our lives to a vapor[3] and just think how quickly vapor dissipates.

Our next contemplation should be the fact that our God identifies with our pain. Jesus sympathizes and the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses.[4]  The Most High God collects our tears in His bottle and numbers our wanderings[5]. He leads us in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake[6] and He provides for His children[7]. We can trust Him to bring us through the deep waters of depression, loneliness, or suffering and set us safely on the bank of the river.[8] He is our Almighty God and our Jehovah-rapha, the Lord Who Heals..[9]

Lastly, we must remember this Thanksgiving holiday wasn’t really about us nor is Christmas. It’s about our great and glorious God. And even if we are not feeling thankful, we are to give thanks anyway[10] and remember Who He Is. He is righteous, holy, and good. So, let’s “…give thanks to the LORD because of His righteousness…[and]…sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.”[11]

But even with my pep talk, I’m ashamed to be caught up in my own little world, almost oblivious to the pain out there. I know need to do something about it, but what? How would my Lord would have me minister to those in pain, not just in the next month, but all year long? I’m praying for His leading. How about you?

[1] Hebrews 11:10
[2] II Corinthians 4:17
[3] Psalm 39:5, 11;  Psalm 62:9;  James 4:14
[4] Romans 8:26; Hebrews 4:15
[5] Psalm 56:8
[6] Psalm 23:3
[7] II Corinthians 9:8-12; Philippians 4:19
[8] Ezekiel 47:1-9
[9] Exodus 15:26
[10] Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 1:12; I Thessalonians 5:18
[11] Psalm 7:17 NIV


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