Thanksgiving's Roller Coaster

Many of you may have my perspective. Facebook is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing of connection, shared memories, and exciting new ones. It’s also a curse. If you are in the middle of a crisis or a sorrow, the happy faces, and great adventures of others can feel like salt in a wound. And while affirmations, bible verses and meaningful quotes fill the news feed, the rampant ugliness and incivility are jarring and burdensome. With already nine months of Covid, the chaos increases. 

Hopefully, most Americans will enjoy a wonderful celebration. I daresay though many of us may sit around a table where sorrows and challenges won't take a vacation during Thanksgiving. We may not be able to be with family. Or someone has the virus.  Or a family member or friend is struggling with a serious issue. Giving thanks is sometimes challenging anyway especially AT Thanksgiving. The heartwarming ads on TV and  smiling Facebook posts can escalate any personal challenges we face whether in our families, our workplace, or ministry. Most of us don’t choose to splatter very many personal issues all over Facebook.

How can we navigate any kind of chaos in our personal lives during the upcoming holiday? First, let’s not assume that every smile we see comes from deep down and that every wonderful post reflects a 100% positive existence. I’ve often smiled with a broken heart. And I know I’m not alone. We must recognize that problems and sorrows accompany almost everyone in different seasons throughout life. I'm an optimist yet a realist. Life is a roller coaster. 

C.S. Lewis offers an eloquent observation: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” 

We need each other on life’s roller coaster. Thank God, another reality is far greater. The reality of God is beautifully encapsulated in Psalm 23, my all-time favorite. It highlights not only life’s sorrows-His companionship in the shadow of death-but life’s joys when we sit at a table God Himself prepares for us. Growing up, I taught my children that if all they memorized was The Lord’s Prayer and The 23rd Psalm, God’s words in those scriptures would be enough to sustain them. I still prefer the King James Version of Psalm 23.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths
of righteousness for His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow
of death, I will fear no evil. for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of
mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall
follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the
house of the LORD forever.

Most of us don't know every detail,  depth of sorrow, or challenges faced by others, sometimes even our close friends and family. Many sadnesses are unspoken.  THAT IS WHY KINDNESS IS NEEDED AND LIFE-GIVING. We are in this thing called “life” and in it together, both strangers and friends. Let’s make the best of it with God’s help. We sure can’t do it alone.

Thanksgiving may not be the same this year...or that happy. Yet we can express thanks for the food we eat, a roof over our heads, a blanket in the cold weather, a bible verse to cling to, family and friends, and above all, our Lord Who loves us unconditionally.  

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