What’s your favorite Thanksgiving memory? Maybe it’s a Thanksgiving with your family when everyone was together, before people moved away or passed away. Maybe it’s the traditions of turkey trots or touch football games or wearing pajamas until noon or watching parades. Maybe it’s a cooking mishap (like hitting “self-clean” instead of “bake”) that was a disaster at the time but now is worthy of laughs.
My favorite Thanksgiving memory goes back to the early years when my dad was still alive. Thanksgiving was one of the three days a year that we actually ate in the dining room (Christmas and Easter were the others). My parents always invited friends who didn’t have family nearby, so Mom would break out the china, crystal and silver. The table was beautiful. The food was amazing and would provide fabulous leftovers for days to come. And we’d always watch a football game on TV after dinner.
It was a day for family, friends and food. What could be better than that?
Now, some 30+ years later, Thanksgiving has new meaning for me. I don’t have the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with family anymore. But as I enter a new season of my life, it’s as if my eyes have been opened to see the vast storehouses of God’s goodness poured out. Truly, I am blessed beyond measure.
As I travel abroad each year and receive prayer requests from/for people around the world, I’m reminded that we, as Americans, cannot begin to fathom the poverty that most of the world is in. We cannot understand the wars, the persecution, the stench, the squalor, the desperation, the unmentionable things that happen in secret. We have so much. They have so little.
What can we do?
There are many ways to reach out to others. Offer a few hours of help in a food pantry. Sponsor a child through World Vision or Compassion International. Support ministries like International Justice Mission. But just as important, I believe we need to get on our knees and let God break our heart for what breaks His.
I pray this will be a different kind of Thanksgiving for all of us. One where we not only thank God for His blessings showered upon our life, but we also stand in the gap for others and lift them up to Him. People we know personally, and people we don’t. Those who are struggling financially, physically, spiritually. Those who feel alone or lost. Those who are forgotten.
Lord, thank You for…
Freedom. Freedom to worship. Freedom to go where we want, when we want. Freedom to speak our mind. Freedom to speak Truth without fear of reprisal or censuring. Lord, I pray for those around the world who do not have freedom. Those who are persecuted and tortured for their faith in You. Those who are imprisoned unjustly and separated from their families. Those who are sold, used and abused as slaves. Those in our own country who live in fear. God, I pray You comfort them, sustain them, strengthen them, and shine a light of hope in their life today. May they hear You. May they see You through someone You send to them with a word of encouragement.
Love. God’s love. The love of family. The love of friends. Lord, I pray that we will have the sensitivity to offer love to those who feel empty. I pray we’ll have the patience and humility to love the unlovely. I pray for those who have been hurt and broken; those who have walls of protection around their heart that prevent them from receiving love. May Your love reign in this world and break down barriers. May Your love shine in and through us to warm those we encounter this holiday season. A small drop of love brings hope to a dark and barren life. May we be intentional in showering Your love on others.
You, God. There is no greater gift than God Himself. Lord, thank You for revealing Yourself through Your Word so that we may know You more each day. Thank You for sacrificing Your Son, Jesus, for us so that we are no longer separated from You. Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit who lives in every believer so we will never again be alone. You are the Giver of everything we have. May we be thankful for the bounty of blessings You give to each one of us. But more importantly, may we look past the gifts and truly praise You, the Giver. May we be thankful for Your unchanging and unending love for us. It’s hard to imagine that the Creator of all things, who knows every intimate detail about each one of us, actually wants us to know Him intimately. And yet You do. Lord, I lift up those who don’t know You, or aren’t sure that they do. Open their eyes that they may see. Open their ears that they may hear. Open their hearts that they may know You and love You like never before.
This Thanksgiving, may we offer our thanks to God for the tremendous blessings He has bestowed upon us. But more than gifts, may we praise the Giver. And may we pray for others who aren’t experiencing freedom, love, and a relationship with Jesus.
“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1
Q4U: What’s your favorite Thanksgiving memory?