Thanksgiving Day signals the beginning of the frenzy of the holiday season. For some, it is a reminder of the wonderful birth of our risen Savior, Jesus Christ. And for others, it is the beginning of the shopping season (and discounts) leading up to Christmas. For many, it is both! It is during this time, I am reminded of the many things I have to be thankful for. There are the obvious things like my family and my health. As I age though, these things are taking on new meanings and shapes but I am still thankful. Most days, just to be able to wake up and embrace the newness of the day is something I cherish.
The Value of My Alabaster Box
I actually started writing this blog before Thanksgiving but the emotion of the week took over. This year, I have to admit, I am struggling. I wasn’t struggling to be thankful, no, God has blessed and kept me. For some reason this year I am reminded of that delicate balance of how blessings can also have that distinction of being fulfilling and painstaking at the same time. See, for me (and many others) the Thanksgiving season is a stark reminder of those things that have passed on in life. It is a reminder of the now empty chair that used to be occupied by a loved one.
Tough Times…At Times
This is now the third Thanksgiving where all of the family’s parents (mine and my in-laws) are absent. Though we have grown accustomed to this new existence it is still a void that we busily ignore while cooking and hustling through the festivities. The week of Thanksgiving is especially hard for me because it is also the week my mother’s health took a turn for the worse and she never recovered. My mother loved the fellowship of Thanksgiving; the grocery shopping, the cooking, the crowded kitchen, she loved it! It was her lack of wanting to participate in the planning three years ago that signaled something was very wrong. She went into hospice care right after that holiday and went on to Glory shortly afterward.
I recognize this holiday season can be tough for so many of us. Though gratitude is at the core of our hearts, some of our memories have a tinge of pain connected due to loss, grief, and change. I think about the song by CeCe Winans where she sings about people not knowing the pain behind the oil in her alabaster box. I cry when I hear that song because I truly can empathize.
Hope Still Lies Ahead
It is also during these times when I also realize there is nothing in this world that God is not aware of or understands. It is during these times I cry out to Him because I trust He knows what is in my heart. When I feel the void of my mothers presence, like when I am looking for her oyster dressing recipe, He says “I know My child, I hear your tears.” It is during this time He also reminds me that she is fine with Him and it is alright to feel sad because He knows the love we had for each other. God knew what He was doing when He allowed her to have me and the feelings of grief when she passed away. He knows about the bond of mother and daughter. He knows about the grief and the emptiness we feel when family, friends, and sometimes even things, are no longer with us. God created everything and He understands. We are not alone.
Turn to God’s Word
It is during times like this I believe we have to turn to His voice in the Bible to get the strength to get through. If the holiday season is a bit tough for you – the following are points to remember to help you along:
- Rejoice in all things, pray continually and be forever grateful. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
- For everything, there is a season so trouble doesn’t last forever. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
- God promised He will give us the strength to get through the things we face. God didn’t say life would be easy but He did say He would never leave us. (Isaiah 41:10, 1 Peter 5:10)
- God can take the most heartwrenching situations and use them for good. (Romans 8:28)
- God says our sacrifice of Thanksgiving is what He desires and when we call on Him, He is the one who will deliver us. (Psalm 50:13-15)
My friends, for those memories, your grief, that unwanted life change and that need that seems to be continually unfilled – God says to bring it all to Him. He understands and can carry you through. Give it to Him, with thanksgiving.