It’s Sunday before Thanksgiving, and the kids are off the whole week, and I just want to hide under the covers. Can we just skip over this silly holiday?
I’ll be completely honest; I struggle deeply during the Thanksgiving season.
I know I should be extremely excited and grateful for all that God has done and is doing, but for various reasons—distance, practicality, or just plain inconvenience—we rarely spend this holiday with extended family.
I dread the feeling of loneliness and often have threatened to just take my family of seven out to dinner because the thought of preparing just another big meal, seems daunting and very overwhelming. Negative thoughts of the coming week flood my mind.
We all struggle to be thankful…
Instead of feeling excited and grateful, you may feel sad, disgruntled, or lonely.
Maybe you’re feeling discouraged about where you are in life, being hit continuously with setbacks. Perhaps you have recently lost a loved one, and you’re carrying intense grief. Maybe you’re single and wishing you were married. Maybe you’ve been experiencing rejection, and the holidays are just another reminder of what could be or what once was. Loneliness and guilt can quickly steal your joy and peace.
I talked frankly with the Lord, “There has got to be more than making a list of what I’m thankful for? I need my heart to be truly grateful.”
As Thanksgiving drew near this particular year, I began to panic. I had nothing at all planned and we were only days until the big day. The ache of loneliness, I tried desperately to avoid, began to creep in. Funny how holidays magnify emotions?
As usual, it was not an option to have extended family come. We had recently moved and hadn’t met many people yet. My husband suggested we open our home to others who felt the way we did. Lonely.
He reminded me, for God so loved that He gave. And Love always gives. I’m sometimes finding the only way to fill an ache is to give through hospitality.
So that is what we did. We invited people who didn’t have family or friends nearby to spend the day with us. Since it was such short notice, only one cherished friend joined us. However, little did I know, God was already working on this one friend.
As I prepared our home, I began to feel the excitement and anticipation for the coming holiday for the first time in many years. Then we sat down around the table. As we spoke our thanks and acknowledged our many blessings, I could feel God’s presence at work in my own heart.
After dinner, we sat by the newly lit Christmas tree exchanging stories from the last few months. I shared difficulties and how the transition had rocked my world, and she shared the abundant life she has been experiencing. Hope filled the room and longing overwhelmed my heart.
She turned to me and said, “God restored me, and I want to write a book about it.”
I think I forgot over the previous months that God was still in the business of restoring. He not only wants to restore; He wants us to walk in fullness and live the abundant life He preached about over two thousand years ago. And what better time to be reminded of this precious truth than during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Our God is a Restorer. God can restore and wants to restore everything the devil has stolen from you (see Joel 2:25), even the loneliness I struggled with each year.
God was at work, showing a new side of Himself. A side I may have overlooked if I had continued to throw myself a pity party. When we come to see our lives as a way to give back to the Lord, He meets our brokenness and transforms it.
As I went to bed that night I heard a gentle whisper, “I replaced your loneliness with joy today and reminded you of Who I AM, all because you deiced to trust Me and give through hospitality”
“…after a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10.
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The Joy of the Lord is My Strength.