“21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” – Romans 1:21
WOW, is MOM turned upside down right now, or what? Let’s face it, Thanksgiving can turn all of us on our heads: With so much to do, so many to see, or no one to see. . .we can enter into a holiday that is intended to “Give Thanks to Almighty God for His Blessings” overwhelmed and feeling helpless. But while we may not be able to change the details of our Thanksgiving Day, we CAN change how we respond and how it affects us.
First, let’s glorify God as God! No one else is God: Not me, not you, and not Uncle Albert who thinks he’s God. No, God is God, and when we glorify Him as God, He becomes our shelter and refuge in the storm. He becomes our hiding place in trouble and joy in the testing.
Next, let’s be thankful! Did you know that the will of God in Christ Jesus for us is to give thanks in all things? I have found that the key to thanking God is that I give thanks “in everything in Christ.” I thank God in everything that I may find Christ in everything. Rather than bemoan my current circumstance or pressured place emotionally, I thank God for this place to discover Christ. Jesus wants me to discover more of Him in every situation, in every moment, and in every uncomfortable place that I might encounter in my life. Thankfully, I don’t have to perform for Jesus or my family; I get to simply receive Jesus and His love for me in the midst of performance and family. Thanksgiving then becomes a perfect opportunity to open our hearts to receive Christ’s love. . .
You have likely heard me say this before, but God has allowed me to live its truth over and over again, so I share it with you again as well: The issue is never the issue, the issue is always control! It’s not politics or mashed potatoes, it’s, “Whose will wins?” in the argument or arrangement of the meal. Stop! Let it go! Forgive, which essentially means “let go” of the issue of control. People who have to control are very frightened people. Why? Because fear brings the need to control, while love brings trust instead.
You might be thinking, “OK, Pastor Steve, but emotionally I am just NOT there. I have walked in this mess for many years; how do you expect me to just let go and enjoy the moment?” By talking it out. Prayer is a conversation we have with God to understand what we are feeling, in order to be able to feel what He is feeling. It’s how we see, feel and ultimately discharge emotions. It also might involve a healthy conversation with others when our feelings get triggered or stirred up in a moment with them when our emotions escaped.
Remember, emotions are neither right nor wrong. They just are. And you’ve probably noticed, they are hard to contain! They are always looking for a way out so that they don’t get lodged or stew in our souls. Sometimes, in an unguarded moment—take Thanksgiving and our idyllic ideals, for example–we can loosen our grip, while not realizing our expectations are unrealistically high, and WHAM, our emotions come flooding up and (maybe) out!
Time for a talk. “What am I feeling? Why am I feeling this? What just happened?” Since emotions are neither right nor wrong, the reason they came is neither right nor wrong, either. If we make the mistake that our emotions are “truth” and somehow indicate right or wrongs done to us, we will likely not share the emotions we have, but inwardly either accuse ourselves or blame others. “Someone is at fault!” our emotions scream. Either way, accusation and condemnation will stir up in our souls, along with a whole bunch of other emotions, too.
Before we go there, a fact caused a feeling and we need to share how a fact made us feel, not whether what someone did was right or wrong. After all, it’s Thanksgiving and we don’t want to have to call the police! Honestly, forgiveness can diffuse pretty much any situation: Letting go of a right or a wrong, and simply moving on. The tree of life is forgiveness; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is death. So rather than looking to place blame (which the tree of knowledge of good and evil will require), talk to the Lord; share your feelings. If it gets messy, it’s OK. He can take it. He is the best listener. He will love you in the midst of your mess. Jesus’ love is the kind of love that bridges any gap; He is always ready for the conversation. It’s what He gave His life for, so He could talk to us and wash us in His Words of Life.
Glorify God as God this Thanksgiving, being thankful for the Thanksgiving He has provided for you. This is His will for you in Christ Jesus. Recognize control when it’s trying to get control of you, and let go of the issue of control. Just Let. . . It. . . Go! Feel what you feel, and share what you share without blaming others or finding fault with their actions. And oh yeah. . . “Please pass the forgiveness.”
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.