It is easy and obvious to give thanks for whatever harvest we have – the food is there and we are grateful for it and the job that helped us obtain either the seed and nutrients to grow the food, or the food itself from a market or a farmer. It is easy to be grateful FOR that.
But many are experiencing hard things:
Empty chairs – when you have lost a loved one
Empty nest and/or empty days – feeling alone, set aside, or unimportant to anyone
Empty wallet – lost job, tough circumstances with health, home, vehicles, all straining finances
Empty emotionally – strained family or other close relationships
How can we possibly be thankful FOR these things? Or can we find gratitude or praise while IN the midst of these experiences?
Elaine Stenger, in Dancing in the Rain, tells how she came to realize that years of her strained parental relationship could be a blessing because she was being shown how NOT to be.
Elie Wiesel, survivor of the Holocaust death camps was able to take/carry out attributes of silent respect and comprehension of how such profound evil took place that we might prevent it from happening again. He said
“If you want to bring meaning to your life, bring meaning to your pain.”
I have meaning in my life because of the perspective of the meaning in Jesus’ pain. Because of His pain, I can find meaning in mine.
The Thanksgiving we imagine where the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation feasted together to celebrate a peace treaty happened only once. Not everyone agreed with the treaty.
English and Dutch burned natives alive, with days of “thanksgiving” decreed by governors after every massacre. Thanksgiving is a painful reminder to many American Indians and Susan Bates, (Hill & Holler Column) says we need to learn our true history so it won’t ever be repeated.
President Lincoln, eventually declared a national day of Thanksgiving and Praise while the nation was in a time of war.
Part of the proclamation includes PRAYERS of gratefulness for increases in population, in harvest, in natural resources and expectation of continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
Without political spin or personal glory he directs us to God:
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things.
They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
And later concludes:
And I recommend to them …they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers. . . (and implore) the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
So what if we applied those thoughts this Thanksgiving to both our gains and our losses?
Asking God to heal our wounds (both personally and nationally)
Praying fervently that relationships be restored and (renewed not with what we each think is right) but consistent with the Divine purposes of
As we pray tomorrow, let us give thanks in everything.