Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT
Our Thanksgiving gatherings had changed.
I remember them as a child. We gathered at my paternal grandparents’ home in Orangeburg, South Carolina. My grandfather cooked a turkey and a ham. My grandmother cooked the trimmings.
At the designated time, Mom, Dad, and we three boys showed up for the feast and to visit with the grandparents who treated us more like children than grandchildren. Then Dad’s sister and brother-in-law, along with their two children, arrived. We sat at the table to enjoy the meal—the adults at the dining room table and the children at the kitchen table.
After the feast ended, we traveled twenty miles south to Vance, South Carolina, where we enjoyed another meal with my mom’s parents, along with my mom’s sister and her three children. Although our stomachs bulged, we ate again anyway.
When all of the grandparents had died—or gotten too feeble to cook Thanksgiving meals anymore—Mom took over, and we three boys, along with our spouses and children, gathered at her house to enjoy the same kind of feast we had enjoyed at our grandparents’.
Then it happened. Well, more than one thing, actually. Dad died. Divorce touched all three of us boys. Remarriages took place. Parents and grandparents—and even some great-grandparents—multiplied. Steps were added. The family grew, but in a different and separated way. Then Mom remarried, and stopped cooking on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
My younger brother moved away and only visited once or twice a year—at Thanksgiving, but mostly at Christmas. One year, he decided to come for Thanksgiving. But it wasn’t what I imagined. My other brother and his new family planned to gather with his new wife’s family. His children had other plans. My daughter and her kids planned to “drop” in. My son and his family also had other plans.
Our Thanksgiving gathering wasn’t what I hoped for. Circumstances built a siege against us. But I thanked God for the gathering we had. Which is what Paul commanded. We don’t have to thank God for our circumstances, but we can thank Him in them.
I could spout off the typical things people say when asked what they are thankful for—family, friends, a job, good health, a house, a car, God—and I do thank God for all of that, but somehow my thanks needs to go deeper. I’m thankful God has chosen me as His child, and that I had the sense to say yes when He extended the invitation. His grace is enough.
My connection with my heavenly Father through Christ helps me give thanks even when the Thanksgivings are different or when they are not what I hoped for.
This Thanksgiving, ask God to help you show gratefulness, even though your circumstances may not be ideal.
Prayer: Father, we thank You for inviting us into Your family and for showing us how to demonstrate gratefulness even in trying circumstances.
Tweetable: How thankful are you this Thanksgiving?