Today, some of us will gather around festive tables, eating our fill of roasted turkey, whipped potatoes, and pumpkin pie. It’s Thanksgiving in the United States, and so we pause today to celebrate —to give thanks—for a year filled with beautiful and hard things.
But it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Perhaps there’s a chair at our table sitting empty this year. There’s a longing within us that a smile can’t dull. Maybe there’s financial stress that the holidays only highlight. A festive tablescape and full stomach may make us feel good for a moment, but they cannot fix the hurts and heartaches that we often carry with us to the table.
Paul knew that giving thanks was hard for us—be it on special days or ordinary ones. He was no stranger to a life peppered with brokenness and beauty. So he wrote to the believers at Thessalonica, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Tucked in between the rejoicing and thanksgiving is a simple call to pray—to refocus our gaze on a Savior who gave up everything for us.
If we disciple ourselves to do this, to pray before fretting, fussing, or even faking a smile, our day looks different and not quite so daunting. The losses still hurt. The stress still makes our stomach churn. But the hard things don’t undo us like they once did. Prayer gives us a new perspective that offers us purpose for our pain.
So today, whether you’re baking a pie or simply preparing for another ordinary day, pause for just a moment. And pray.
The day’s burdens will get lighter as we refocus our gaze. And that’s a great reason to give thanks.
Will you join me?