As the fourth Thursday of November unfolds, it weaves together a spectrum of heightened emotions, and the resonance of the holiday becomes even more potent. With its focus on gratitude and togetherness, Thanksgiving presents unique challenges for those living through loss. The holiday spotlight emphasizes the void left by loved ones, casting a poignant shadow over the holiday spirit. The empty chair at the dining room table becomes a symbol, adding to the pain of grief.
Reflecting on Job's poignant declaration: "I came into this world with nothing, and when I leave, I will have nothing. Everything I have is a gift from the Lord, and He is honored to have brought me back. I Thank the LORD for his blessing" (Job 1:21 TLB). I have learned that it is easier to express gratitude when life is positive.
In moments when your home is safe, and your pantry is well-stocked, faith in God flows effortlessly. It is easy to find joy when pain is observed from a distance rather than carried within. However, in the face of the overwhelming pain of losing a child, expressing gratitude and coming to terms with God's goodness can present tremendous challenges. How does one find gratitude in the reality of a God who gives and takes away?
Thanksgiving cannot be based on the belief that things could be worse. Guilt should not be the compass for gratitude. Forcing oneself to sit at the dinner table with a broken heart and offer half-hearted prayers to a higher power with wavering faith is an impossibility. The essence of Thanksgiving is the unwavering recognition that every moment is a blessing. Every breath contains the entirety of the human experience. Though the nature of pain may seem simple, it is a complex and multi-layered experience that manifests itself in many ways.
Today, on the fourth Thursday in November, I embrace this gift at my dining room table. I miss our daughter Texa, yet I am grateful for those who have stood by me. Despite the burden on my heart, I cannot help but praise the power of God, who both bestows and withdraws blessings. As heavy as my heart may be, I will sacrifice to honor this higher power.