A Thanksgiving Lament

Thanksgiving 2020 at my family’s house this year is completely different. For starters, we’re celebrating at our house. This is the first Thanksgiving in our marriage (12 years) that we’ve spent this particular holiday at our own home.

Like many, this wasn’t the plan. We were supposed to be celebrating with my parents in Texas. In years previous, we celebrated with my wife’s family in Georgia.

Instead, this morning we rolled out of bed, ate some waffles, and talked about what do to do with ourselves.

Not What We Planned

You may find yourself in a similar situation. COVID has changed so much for so many of us this year. Altered Thanksgiving and, potentially, Christmas plans might feel like another blow in the series of punches to the gut that 2020 has brought.

Pessimist that I tend to be, I’ve had to work hard this week to recalibrate my thoughts and heart towards gratitude. But an honest appraisal of our setting is necessary for us to move to Thanksgiving. Biblically speaking, this is called lament.

Lament isn’t negative doom and gloom. It is a realistic assessment that the world is broken, hurting, and often disappoints us as followers of Christ. Instead of just soldiering on, lament allows us to bring our hurt, disappointment, and frustration to the feet of God and recognize that He alone is able to answer the longing of our heart.

Struggle with the concept? Read through a few Psalms. It’s hard to complete 3-4 consecutive Psalms without finding a good lament.

An important note: biblical lament doesn’t stay in hopelessness or frustration. The full emotional weight of a struggle is brought before God, often in excruciating detail, probably with tears. Then, biblical lament always casts its eyes upward to God. Lament always ends in reminders of God’s faithfulness and affirmations of trust in Him.

We often struggle with this concept because our faith is rarely in the person of God. Instead, our faith is often in the things that God can do for us. If that’s your faith, you’ll struggle with lament. Lament recognizes that sometimes God doesn’t act in your favor, that often hurts, and yet He is still a trustworthy God.

I an neither a poet nor the son of a poet, but here’s an attempt at an honest-to-goodness Thanksgiving lament.

A Thanksgiving Lament

On an unusual day
We miss gathering with family.
We miss the laughs.
We miss the love.
We miss the time.

In an unusual year
Missing this time stings more than normal.
A year of missed:
Time, family,
School, "normal," moments,
worship, fellowship.

On an unusual day
I remember that, despite the hardships
You've been faithful.
You've provided,
You've reminded,
You've encouraged.

In an unusual year
Help Your people to remember
You are not surprised,
You have a purpose,
You work for good,
in all things.

On an unusual day,
In a most unusual year,
Help us to give thanks
In all things, not
For all things, for
This is Your will.

Published by benjieshaw

Follower of Christ. Husband to Jenna. Dad to Ava and Caleb. Crossfitter. Coffee snob. MCU aficionado. Passionate about discipleship, engaging the unengaged, and helping churches understand/reach young adults.

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