*Disclaimer: If you are high on life and thankful for everything from the newspaper boy to the cutlery in your kitchen, then this post isn’t for you.*
I’ll never forget my first thanksgiving as a newly married wife. We had just moved to the Far North (make fun if you want, but it is nearly ten hours more north than I was before) I had just started a job that I hated, we just started a new church, I had no friends, and just failed at quitting smoking, AGAIN. Not to mention that it was my first holiday away from our family. I was absolutely heart broken. There was snow on the ground, it was cold, we lived way out in the country, and went from having numerous dinners (usually five for each holiday) to one. Yes, I was thankful to be with my handsome hubby after months apart; yes, I was thankful to have our own little home to fuss over; yes, I was thankful I had a job. But mostly? I felt completely alone. I put on my most THANKFUL face, put my hands in the air during worship at church, and felt like I was lying to everyone. Not that anyone was around.
Is that the goal? Is that what God wanted? Was I being “Christian?”
Good grief. Why did Jesus even come?
He came to abolish the sacrifices people used to have to make to absolve their sins. To make a personal relationship with us. To tear down the veil. To become one with us. And here, on a holiday the Church has adopted as it’s own, I lied to Him. I distanced myself from Him, because I wasn’t feeling how I thought I was supposed to.
Forcing our feelings, or convincing ourselves that other people have it worse than us, does not change how we feel. Looking at the bright side, trying to see the good in the bad, all of these are beautiful, good things. But they don’t necessarily heal depression, or help someone going through a loss. I think of one of my best friends, who lost her dad on last year’s Thanksgiving holiday. Of my brother and sister in law, who lost their baby last week. Are they thankful today? Does God not understand that?
What does the Bible say?
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
We are not tied to one day of thankfulness, it must permeate our every hour. However, nothing spoken in the Bible was meant for us to do in our own strength. He came for US. He mourns with us, He celebrates with us, He makes all things new.
Today is the same as every day. If you are hurting and broken, remember why He came in the first place- to comfort those who mourn, to save us, to overcome the world. And by all means, be thankful for that!
But if today, you are hurting and you are sad, and the “bright sides” and the thinking of “those who have it worse” aren’t changing your heart, don’t pretend. He doesn’t want phoniness, he wants US. He wants to bear our burdens, to heal our sorrows. Don’t make light of what He came to save. He would rather have our real cries, our real pain, our ugly brokenness, than our fake happy faces.
Jesus came to take away our “have to’s”. He is only interested in our “want to’s.”
So today, I am so thankful for our marriage, our children, our country, our faith, our grace. I’m thankful for our days at home. But today, Jesus, I’m not going to thank you that my family is in pain, and for losing another little niece or nephew. I’m not going to thank you that my brothers and sister in law are moving away. And Lord? While we’re on the subject, I’m not ready to thank you for the baby we didn’t get to see, either. I’m not there yet, Lord! But I trust you to comfort me. I trust you, and I bless your Holy name. And I pray that you make me thankful, because I just can’t do it without you. Above all the stuff, all the troubles and all the joy, I am so thankful that You know me, and You still love me. I am thankful that you want my real-ness over my phoniness every day.
Am I wrong? Right? I’d love to hear your thoughts.