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"Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations." Psalm 100:1-5

As we prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday many of us are readying ourselves for the simultaneous joy and apprehension that often accompanies the gathering of families. Perhaps you picture the Rockwellian family ideal ― breaking bread, gathering, sharing, reflecting, loving togetherness or maybe instead, your table conjures images of barely suppressed animosities and hurts.

When tensions or expectations spill over into the planning and weigh us down; threaten to tarnish the day before it arrives and shift our focus to anxious worry; we may forget the most important aspect â€• the focus on gratitude â€• on Thanksgiving.

"I exalt gratitude as a central biblical response of the heart to the grace of God. The Bible commands gratitude to God as one of our highest duties...God says that gratitude honors him: “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me” (Psalm 50:23)" â€• John Piper, Future Grace.

Giving thanks to the Lord is a heart reponse for His provision, for His faithfulness, for His mercies new every morning, for His grace, for His son, Jesus, who lived a perfect life, took upon Himself all sin from everlasting to everlasting; bearing the cost on our behalf; giving us His righteousness, died on the cross, was buried and rose on the third day conquering death, He ascended to Heaven seated at the right hand of God, and He WILL return!

Consider this...within the confines of the familial structure the intimate dynamic serves as a transparent illustration of God’s mercy when wrath, eternal judgment and death are the only thing we sinners deserve and the Gospel message of love, forgiveness, and grace are shown instead. The family unit, with all its disharmony and dysfunction, is a grace opportunity where we can choose to set aside past wrongs, ignore old wounds, and refuse to allow past slights to grow and hurts to fester while keeping our hearts tuned to the Lord and the indescribable joy of the Gospel. 

Additional Resources:

Feasting on Thanksgiving | Desiring God

God's Mercy in Messed Up Families | Connect to Women's Ministry at TACC

Five Truths About Thanksgiving | Desiring God