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Hard Thanksgiving

Nov. 25th, 2017 | Rev. Don Underwood

There are two kinds of Thanksgiving, the easy kind and the hard kind. The easy kind is when everything is going well and there are no major crises being tended to. That’s the kind of Thanksgiving when the prayer is for the many blessings of food, shelter, and the many comforts of life. That is the Thanksgiving when the most urgent issue revolves around who wins the football game.

The hard kind of Thanksgiving…well, you know what that is. It’s when a family member or friend is dying, or a child has been arrested or hospitalized, or when the fog of depression threatens to descend and destroy everything with its darkness. It is when joy is elusive, when hope has been shattered.

The first Thanksgiving was the hard kind. Despite the popular story painted by legend, the Pilgrims had made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than they. And yet, they sank to their knees in their new home, the fresh graves of their loved ones nearby, and they gave thanks.

I have lots of friends who, this year, are celebrating Hard Thanksgiving. It prompts me to be ever-cautious about practicing “easy gratitude.” It’s easy to be grateful for food, family, and football. But true Thanks-giving calls us to the difficult work of being grateful, in good times and tough times, for the presence of God and the opportunity to love others the best we can. Paul put it this way, “In all circumstances, give thanks.” That’s what the pilgrims did. That’s what we are called to do.