What comes to your mind when you think of Thanksgiving? My thoughts go immediately to family, food and giving thanks to God–not just for the “stuff” in my life but for His Divine Presence.
I remember one Thanksgiving traveling to Grandma and Grandpa Hutcherson’s house from our home in the Los Angeles area. The three-and-a-half hour journey, North from LA to Bakersfield and beyond to Pixley (a small farming community where my dad grew up) was never boring. As we (Mom, Dad, my brother Norm, and I) made our way out of the busyness of the suburbs, we watched the sunrise in the east. We followed the old Highway 99 Grapevine–tmountainous yet devoid of trees (except for the occasional cluster of black oaks scattered across the dry, grassy landscape– it offered a unique beauty. As we followed 99 down to the wide expanse of the Central Valley, where oil fields and farmland commingled, our excitement grew–we were more than halfway to Grandma and Grandpa’s house!
When we finally reached Pixley we were grateful to stretch our legs as we got out of our car and exchanged hugs all around. Throughout the day, as more family arrived, there were always more hugs and lots of conversation, often spiced with gentle teasing and an abundance of laughter. Grandma Grace, a farmer’s wife and the mother of 6 children, always had things well in hand by the time everyone arrived.The fragrance of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy wafting out of her kitchen had us all salivating as we eagerly listened for the magic words, “Time to eat!“ Once everything was laid out and the call made, we filled our plates high with Grandma’s fixings and the numerous side-dishes other family brought for our Thanksgiving Feast. Reflecting back, with my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles and several cousins now gone, it remains a little slice of heaven in my bank of memories . . .💝💝💝
This year . . . the year of COVID–Thanksgiving (and Christmas) will be very different from years past. The warm exchange of hugs will largely be missing and the sharing of food will likely be different too. In fact this holiday season will be one of mourning the loss of loved ones and facing uncertainty. I don’t know about you, but with so much loss and the “restrictions” placed on many, the idea of any sort of traditional “celebration” seems almost impossible,
So how can we bring good (and perhaps discover blessing) during this tough, unexpected circumstance we find ourselves in? The wisdom of the Apostle Paul provides a timeless framework when it comes to living out God’s will in every season::
“Rejoice always, pray continually,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I Thessalonians 5:16-18
- Rejoice that when life seems out of control, God is still in control.
- Pray for your concerns with the confidence that you are heard!.
- Give thanks to God for watching over you, especially in the tough times.
- Remember that God sees a larger picture than we do, as He works out His good and perfect will, for our good and His Glory.
How can we work this out practically? How can we bring more light (and with it hope) into this holiday season as we celebrate God’s Sovereign Goodness? Here are some thoughts to help make this years celebration, is a season to remember:
- To be more intentional in “unwrapping” God’s gift of each new day–confessing fears/sin while asking Him to help us see His blessing throughout each day.
- Use whatever means available to stay connected with people–especially people you can laugh with to keep your spirits up. (I participate in three different Zoom groups each week that help me take my focus off myself as I connect with others.)
- Start a special Thanksgiving Journal –covering the holiday season through Epiphany. Fill it with a log of daily praises (add to it a list of the blessings you have received or witnessed during the past year.) Also include concerns and insights gained that day through people as well as in Scripture,.
- Watch for ways to help the needy. (It’s a fact that when we help others we are also encouraged.)
- I still plan on decorating my home this Season–focused on the Birth of Jesus–in the hope of encouraging hurting neighbors and friends. (No schlock this year!)
This morning I found comfort in Lamentations that lend a helpful perspective on why thanksgiving to God is so very important this year:
“I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for Him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him,
to the one who seeks Him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.”
Yes, because of the Lord’s great love we have much to give thanks for. Please join me in giving thanks to Him for the hope that is ours in His Son.
What are some of your thoughts about celebrating the coming Season? Please share with the rest of us in the comments below!
All to His Glory!