Over the years, I have a way that I pray for people that may seem odd, and even possibly open to criticism. After a short silence and then some sort of pre-amble with the Lord, I just write down names. And as I write them down, I'm am giving their situation to God and pleading with Him to do what I can not do but He can.
In these post Covid times, and possibly the fact that I am late 50's in age and tend to 'rub shoulders with the older', the lists grow long these days. The list today includes little babies in the hospital, and grieving families. It also includes a hurting nation with a landscape of division, strife, and want.
And you know well the foundation verse of the pre-amble- Philippians 4:5–7 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
But there is a question at the top of this post.... can there be Thanksgiving today for those in pain?
Those in grief? Those who are lonely? Those who would give the world to forget or those who would pay it all to remember and see one more time?
And the answer? For those who refuse to give up faith, hope, and love..... YES!
Even if there seems to be no relief in sight... Remember the example of Abraham in Romans 4:17–22
 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.  In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”  He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.  No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,  fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.  That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” (ESV)
I don't know when, who, where, how someone may read this short post today- but here is Thanksgiving for the hurting:
If your marriage is in trouble, grab your spouse look them in the eye and say, "I am thankful for you" and count those positive traits instead of the downward spiral of transgressions and failed expectations.
Is there a broken relationship with years of distance and regret? Use today as a way to say "love, forgiveness, and thanks".
Is this is your first holiday without a loved one and the bitterness is so raw that you can't see a way to go on? Bend your knee in thanksgiving and faith as you say , "Lord, they are not coming back to me, but one day I will be with them" and then rise and know that God knows your pain and He is patiently awaiting that day as well.
At the table today... though it is quite Ok to be thankful for what you have. To me the smell and taste of my coffee this morning is something to be thankful for... be even MORE thankful for the PEOPLE in your midst and tell them, "I am thankful for you".
When we say thanks, we are actively showing faith, hope, and love because an attitude of gratitude is the fruit of those amazing virtues sprouting roots in our sinful hearts that are always prone to wander.
I find it interesting that 'gratitude' is not listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 and I believe that part of that is that gratitude is a response to a perspective, a way of seeing. Without the fruit of the Spirit there would not be a chance to show gratitude in the waste land of the works of the flesh including "enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy" and the list goes on in Galatians 5:20–21and it is not exhaustive because Paul adds "And things like these"!
So there is a beautiful table today- one that has a Biblical perspective of God, His grace and mercy, and pain is seen as a reality under his Sovereign control to be put away at the close of days, and we still bow and say 'thanks' and are thankful for His people and His purposes- then that is a HEALING table of Holy fellowship. We believe in His promises... including eternal life in His Son.
There may be a place and time today that the table is just one soul, all alone, with meager means and little to eat. Yet that person bows with gratitude and hope and rejoices in the promises of God.
Perhaps another place today. Feasting and luxurious... prestige and power. But if there is no true divine perspective, it will be another disappointment as the day ends in disillusionment and emptiness.
May your table today be overflowing with thanks.
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