Tag Archive | Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving: Praise and Prayers for Those Suffering

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What comes to mind when you think of the word ‘spread’ at Thanksgiving? For most people, that word conjures up fond memories of a huge feast. A golden turkey surrounded by Aunt Sally’s stuffing, Cousin Sarah’s sweet potato topped with marshmallows, Ben’s bean casserole, and more. Followed by another spread of desserts. Apple pie a la mode, pumpkin pie, and the ever-popular Grandma’s homemade chocolate cake.

Sitting around the holiday table with loved ones can be uncomfortable—in more ways than one. We pig out on the food. And wind up stuffed. Uncle John raises awkward conversations. And we wish we could crawl under the table.

As Thanksgiving approaches, a mother raising a child with mental illness (MI) might have additional things on her mind. Instead of enjoying fond memories of a food spread, some of us fight emotions. Fear spreads as we conjure up thoughts of worst-case scenarios.

Will my child with MI be stable enough to join in the celebration? Will other family members be accepting of him? What if his symptoms emerge? How will others react if he doesn’t eat? How will I respond to probing questions? Can I bear seeing him sitting in a corner all alone another year?

Most Americans pause to thank God on Thanksgiving. Surely, those of us raising kids with MI have a list of praises for God at this time. That He’s protected our own sanity, if nothing else. Wouldn’t it be a relief if Thanksgiving was also a time to send prayers for those who are suffering?

We may feel alone in our journey, but we’re not the only ones who suffer. Everyone suffers at one time or another. President Lincoln demonstrated his awareness of that fact in his Thanksgiving Proclamation. Find his words of compassion in a portion of that proclamation:

“I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans. mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.”

Lincoln was referring to the suffering of the nation faced with civil strife. He invited citizens to pray for ‘the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.’ Those same words could be applied to us.

Here’s my Thanksgiving Day prayer for you:

Dear Father,

I thank You for how You’ve provided for mothers raising children with MI. For those who have seen Your hand in their lives and who have seen improvement in their children. I’m grateful for Your protection. For each mother reading this, I now ask that You give ‘full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union’ in her home.  May Your love spread in the hearts of each family member. Bless each one with a truly joyous Thanksgiving Day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Thankful?

 

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18

“The man next door is building a tunnel under the ground and into my room.” Such was the statement born out of the woman’s disease rather than reality. Paranoia filled her mind with scary thoughts. The culprit? An aggressive form of dementia.

Two decades prior to my visit to that nursing home, I met Cathy. I first knew her as our son’s kindergarten aide. Through the years, I came to love her joyful spirit. I got to know her vibrant and sweet personality. At times, she could be mischievous. We shared many happy memories and became close friends. More like family.

It was only a year ago that love radiated from Cathy’s face, words, and actions. Such a stark contrast to her countenance in those unfamiliar surroundings. On that day in the nursing home sat a broken, fearful woman.

An inner sadness tugged the corners of her mouth downward. Sheer discouragement dragged her chin to her chest.

Confused thinking prevented clear communication. Yet, her body language shouted one clear message: I hate this place! I dread one more day living like this!

But, Cathy’s illness couldn’t smother her gratitude. For a brief moment, she lifted her head and whispered,

“Thanks for being here.”  Obviously thankful in her circumstances, not for them.

Aren’t we all like Cathy? In an intolerable situation, we’re grateful when someone comes along side us. At the death of a loved one, we’re comforted by the presence of a compassionate friend. A person who speaks not a word…just silently shares the sorrow.

We can empathize with others who know our sorrow. We can share their discouragement and anguish. Yet, we are not defeated. Why? Because of His unfailing love. Because of His wonderful deeds.

Like Cathy, we can be thankful for His presence. Grateful for His existence in our lives. Appreciative of His protection and provision.

A scared little child finds relief when a parent grabs his hand. Reach out to grab your Father’s hand.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

This Thanksgiving, we’ll be able to give Him thanks because of His love, help, and presence.

Dear Father, thank You for Your unfailing love and wonderful deeds. (Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, and 31)

I can face tomorrow because I can depend on Your love. Your Word promised that Your love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:34 & 41, 2 Chronicles 20:21, Psalm 106:1, Psalm 107:1, Psalm 118:1& 29, Psalm 136: 1-3 & 26, and Jeremiah 33:11)