…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:20)
Do we give thanks for everything? That’s a pretty tall order! In this season of thanksgiving, some of us may not feel all that thankful. I have a wonderful friend who, in an eloquent blog post, expressed his frustration in his own lack of gratitude. Life was hard. Finances were lacking, dreams were unrealized, and it seemed as if everyone else was better off than he was. He wanted to appreciate what he had, but the feelings just weren’t coming.
There are many reasons we can find ourselves struggling to be thankful. In my friend’s case, I could immediately see several areas where some unsolicited advice might help.
Have you ever gone out of your way to do something nice for someone, only to have them reject it? Or even worse, criticize you for it? Or perhaps someone wanting a favor came and demanded it of you, instead of asking nicely. Doesn’t feel very good, does it? Continue reading →
(I decided to post something a day early, because I wanted to share this in time for Thanksgiving Day.)
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It’s not about the feast, although I adore turkey, stuffing, and all the accompaniments. It’s not about the football, even though I enjoy a good game every so often.It’s not even about getting together with loved ones, although I treasure any time I spend with our daughters and their families.
Thanksgiving is next week, and you may have invited friends and/or family to dinner. Of course, you’ll want to employ proper etiquette. I happen to own a little book, handed down from Pete’s grandmother and brown with age, titled Table Setting and Service for Mistress and Maid. It was written by Della Thompson Lutes, who is also billed as the author of The Gracious Hostess and A Home of Your Own, and Housekeeping Editor of Modern Priscilla and Director of Priscilla Proving Plant. In 155 pages, Mrs. Lutes outlines all the things the proper homemaker of 1928 needed to know about the art of furnishing a dining room, setting a table, hiring a maid (or waitress) and cook, and properly serving her family and guests.
Thanksgiving. More and more, we’re calling it “Turkey Day.” Is Thanksgiving a holiday about eating as much turkey, stuffing, and pie as we can possibly handle? Has this holiday, like so many others, become so fixed on staying busy, keeping up our traditions, watching football, and buying stuff that we’re missing the point?
For the past few years my dad wasn’t well enough to travel, so we hosted Thanksgiving at our house. We invited friends, family, whoever needed a place to land, and I cleaned and shopped and cooked. Numbers varied, but we usually ended up with a dozen guests crowded around our table built for six. Somehow we made it work.
What are you thankful for? We usually ask that question in November, and here it is June. More often than the answer includes our family, our friends, our good (if it is good) health, perhaps a special possession or two.
After a week or more of evacuations, fire, and loss, many here are incredibly grateful to God, and to the firefighters and other first responders who risked their lives on our behalf. Everywhere you look, there are signs of thanksgiving. I mean that literally.
A friend of mine recently commented about how, with Thanksgiving coming, she is trying to learn to thank God even for “the hard stuff.” She’s basing her belief on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, which says “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
There’s no doubt that Christians are supposed to be a grateful people. There is so much to thank God for—his love, mercy, righteousness and goodness, our salvation, one another, his coming reign on earth, answered prayers, not to mention the endless blessings he bestows on us day by day, often ones we hadn’t even thought to ask for. For example, when’s the last time we thanked God for the air that we breathe? We hardly ever think about air, unless we’re in danger of suffocation or drowning!
So did your candidate win? Or are you horrified at the results of the election? Either way, we’re probably stuck with this person as president for the next four years. But whether we are celebrating or in mourning, it’s time to move on. As believers, we have an important assignment. It’s our job to:
Pray for those in authority. We’re pretty familiar with the verse in 1 Timothy 2, where Paul urges:
… that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
Thanksgiving. That lovely holiday, with the family gathered around the table. Soft music plays in the background, snow gently falls outside. Dad is carving the succulent turkey while the children sit quietly in their seats, mouths watering. The conversation circles the table as each person describes the many things they have been thankful for this past year.
Thanksgiving, that hectic holiday. Mom is trying to gather the family, put the final touches on the dinner, pour the drinks, and carve the turkey, all at the same time. At one end of the table, Aunt Mattie is well into yet another stomach-turning description of her recent root canal. At the other end, Uncle Milt has clearly imbibed too much eggnog. Grandpa is complaining that the pouring rain is making his rheumatism flare up. The eight-year-old twins are poking one another with their forks and fighting over who will get the drumsticks, while the football game blares from the TV in the next room. No one has seen Dad in the several years since he ran off with that floozy account manager.
Once again Thanksgiving has come and gone. This year was lovely… relaxed (we went to our daughter’s and son-in-law’s house, so I got a break from doing all the cooking and cleaning), quiet (there were only five of us), and fun (I love playing Apples to Apples!).
Previous years haven’t been quite so idyllic. There was the turkey still frozen inside, and others fit for offering at Solomon’s temple. We’ve grimaced through crunchy sweet potatoes, and gravy with more lumps than tapioca.
I’ve learned to handle traditions with kid gloves. One year I tried offering fresh green beans with prosciutto, caramelized onions, and sautéed mushrooms… only to find that my husband’s family had to have green bean casserole. Another year, the crispy green salad I made (with lots of seasonal goodies mixed in) sat and wilted while my sister-in-law’s jello disappeared. My delicious homemade whole wheat buns have been voted out in favor of Pillsbury’s crescent rolls.