Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday.
I loved everything about it: the color scheme, the food (I love, love, love to cook-it was never a burden), family and friends gathered around the table, and the wonderful slowness of the day as it lingered into nightfall.
It was more flexible than Christmas for including all sorts of folks who otherwise didn’t have someplace to go. Living near colleges meant that we welcomed students from around the world-we might have two or three dozen laughing faces milling about.
It was wonderful.
And I loved going around the circle, tummies bursting, to share what people were thankful for and why.
When Dominic left us everything changed.
Oh, I was (and still am) so very thankful for so very many things-my family, daily physical provision, ongoing care and love of friends, the enduring faithful mercy of God.
But there’s something else too: there is deep sorrow at the unavoidable FACT that when God COULD have stepped in and changed an outcome, He DIDN’T.
And I’m having to learn to open my heart to thankfulness while also bearing witness to this pain.
Praise and lament in the same breath.
I have plenty of company.
The world we live in is full of pain and suffering. Injustice reigns. We make our way through thorns and by the sweat of our brow.
It is just plain hard.
The psalmist acknowledges that. He doesn’t rush past the pain. He doesn’t gloss over the broken places.
He empties his heart of the feeling that God has forgotten. But he doesn’t stop there-he chooses to bring the emptiness back to the only One Who can fill it up again.
Like the psalmist, I’m learning that I must exhale before I can inhale.
I must admit the burden of hopelessness to make room for the blessing of hope.
“With my voice I cry out to the LORD: with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD.”
I ADMIT I FEEL ABANDONED:
In the path where I walk
they have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see:
there is none who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;
no one cares for my soul.
AND YET I WILL CHOOSE TO TRUST:
I cry to you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”
IN THE HOPE THAT GOD HEARS:
Attend to my cry,
for I am brought very low!
SO THAT MY TESTIMONY MAY BE ONE OF PRAISE:
Bring me out of prison,
that I may give thanks to your name!
Psalm 142, selected
As I sit at the table, cherishing the companionship of those I love and missing the one I can no longer see, I will embrace thanksgiving and lament.
I will exhale and inhale.
I will beg for grace and mercy because I can no longer beg to be spared from sorrow.
I will ask for eyes to see and a faithful heart while I wait.