Being Thankful When Your Not Feeling Thankful
As Thanksgiving approaches, I can’t help but think of those who have lost loved ones in the natural disasters of this year or due to the senseless and heinous crimes of evil people. This doesn’t even include those who have lost loved ones due to accidents, illnesses or natural death. There will be empty spaces around the table, and I’m sure lots of tears as people begin to experience the year of “firsts.”
Thanksgiving is a time which draws people together to celebrate their blessings and thank God for all He has provided. But, what do you do when you are not feeling very blessed or thankful? It is hard to feel thankful when your world has been turned upside down, and your grief is overwhelming. The sting of death has left a hole, and nothing anybody can say or do will bring back a loved one.
There are things we can do to help. Doing these things won’t take all the pain away, but they can help to ease the discomfort of the loss. We can’t sweep situations under the rug and pretend nothing is different because it is a holiday. We need to allow people to grieve through the holiday so that healing can begin. Acknowledging and sharing memories of loved ones are important. Reflecting on a person’s life and how they impacted our lives honors the person and recognizes although the person may not be here now, who they are to you is not forgotten.
I wish there were a magic wand to make all the pain go away for those who are hurting, but grief is a process. Be ready and waiting with your arms open wide to love on those who need an extra hug. Thanksgiving will be a hard day for many, but it doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the things you are grateful for.
Don’t be afraid to laugh. It is healthy to remember the good times. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.” (MSG) It is true. Being emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausted will make you ache in your bones.
If we are only thankful when everything is good in our lives, we never risk fully comprehending how grateful we truly are for the people we have in our lives and the blessings we have been given. Click To TweetIf we are only thankful when everything is good in our lives, we never risk fully comprehending how grateful we truly are for the people we have in our lives and the blessings we have been given. The loss of a loved one is always hard, but with our love, encouragement, and support we can help those who need us the most.
Don’t let the fear of not knowing what to say keep you from saying anything. Sometimes, all a person needs is for someone to say “I’m here if you need anything” or “If you ever want to talk I will listen.” Other times they might just need to hold your hand. Simple acts of kindness can speak volumes.
Don’t be offended if they don’t respond. Remember, chances are they are still processing their loss, and what life looks like without their loved one being here. Behave normally and don’t place all the focus on those who are grieving.
Nothing is normal for those who have just lost loved ones, but they are in the process of finding a new “normal” in which they can find peace, rest and comfort knowing the pain won’t always be as raw as it is at this moment.
The best thing we can do is to pray, love and open our hearts and allow Jesus to use our hands and feet to demonstrate His love to the hurting and thank the Lord for the opportunity to help those in need.
Horatio Spafford was a Chicago lawyer and businessman. In 1873, two years after losing his young son to pneumonia and many of his investments in the Great Chicago Fire, Horatio sent his wife Anna and four daughters ahead on a vacation to England. He was going to join them after he finished some business. The ship on which his family was sailing sank in the Atlantic after colliding with another ship. Horatio received a telegram back from his wife saying, “Saved Alone, What Shall I Do?” Although grief was not new to Horatio, I can’t imagine the horrific sorrow he must have been carrying as he sailed to meet his wife in Europe. As the story goes, the captain of the ship came to Horatio and told him when they were sailing over the spot where his daughters drowned. It was during this voyage that Horatio penned the words to the well-known hymn “It is Well with My Soul.”
Each of us never knows how we are going to handle grief, sorrow or the tragedies of life when we are forced to face them. I have not lost five children, but I have experienced some losses that have shaken me to my core. Every time God has reached out through the hands and feet of others who demonstrated God’s profound love. For those who are hurting, allow others to comfort you in the same way you would want to comfort them.
May the words of this song give you peace and rest for your aching and weary soul.
“It is Well with My Soul” – Horatio G. Spafford/Philip Bliss (Public Domain)
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
For all those who have experienced loss, my prayer for you is that God would comfort you in unexpected and profound ways and make it well with your soul.