Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Devotional for Thanksgiving Day

In EVERY Thing
A Thanksgiving Day devotional written by Becky Melby

Your mother-in-law will be here in two hours with her green Jell-O with cottage cheese in it. The four-year-old has the sniffles and the baby woke three times during the night—which is why you overslept and just put the turkey in. The kitchen floor is sticky, the windows are smudged, and you’d hoped to paint the guest room before Thanksgiving. The pumpkin pies are crispy on top because your teenaged daughter had her earphones in when the timer went off. The tablecloth needs ironing so you ask her to do it. Now the corner of the cloth is scorched. Needing a break, you check Facebook and read a scathing remark from your sister. While you were fighting with the giblets in the half-frozen turkey, your husband sucked up too many Legos with the vacuum cleaner and the belt broke. Now the house smells like burnt pies, tablecloth, and rubber and—help!—the breakfast the four-year-old just threw up. 

Time to cancel Thanksgiving. The last thing in the world you want to do is give thanks. Or host a dinner. If only you could push a magic button and transport yourself back to a simpler time.

Let’s push that button. You’re now living in a tiny house in an idyllic seaside town. The air is crisp and clean. The nights are starlit and quiet. You’re living green here—your husband and a few of the neighbor men built your one-room house using only things found in nature. Your home is heated by a fire in the hearth, which is also where you do your cooking. And today there will be a lot of cooking. Because today is a feast day. The whole town is gathering to celebrate the harvest. You glance at the bounty on the rough-hewn table. Potatoes, pumpkins, onions. Cooking on a spit over the fire is the pheasant you plucked before dawn. Life is simple. Life is good. Your heart is full. There is so much to thank God for. You have a roof over your head. Food on the table. Friends. Family . . .

In a place like this you could give thanks, right? No distracting electronics, no malfunctioning appliances. No daughter texting. No green Jell-O.

Here, your heart is full to overflowing with gratitude—to the God who protected you and your husband and daughter through the long, bitter winter and brought new friends who taught you how to survive in this new place. You give thanks to Almighty God for being your comfort on the arduous journey that brought you here and for His Presence when the baby died on the ship and when you buried your four-year-old in the frozen ground. You are grateful for your widowed mother-in-law who lives with you, grateful for the company of another woman. Life is hard, but this you know—God is good. Your daughter is doing her needlework. You pull your shawl closer, pick up the stump of a candle, and walk across the dirt floor to read the verses she’s stitching: Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing; In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

And once again—in spite of grief, in spite of the wind that whispers of another hard winter, in spite of fear—you rejoice and give thanks for today’s provision and the hope of heaven tomorrow.

The comparison is sobering, isn’t it? I’m sure there were Pilgrims who whined and complained, but I wonder how many of us, people who moan and groan at mere inconveniences, would choose to mark the end of a year of hardship and loss by giving thanks. That first feast was not held because of tradition or family obligation, but a genuine desire to rejoice and give thanks to God for salvation and provision.

Thanks-giving is a choice, isn’t it? A way of looking at life that has little to do with our circumstances. Life is far from perfect, yet still we can choose to remember God is good. We can choose thanks-giving.

Lord, today we choose to remember your goodness. Today, with your help, we choose gratitude over grumbling.

Author bio:
Burlington, Wisconsin author Becky Melby writes Contemporary Christian Fiction. Do You Know What I Know? is her sixteenth book. 

Married for 44 years, mother of four, grandmother to fifteen, Becky thrives on writing, reading, camping, rides on the back of a silver Gold Wing, and time with family. 

Connect with her online at these sites, or Facebook.

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