When you’re hurting on Thanksgiving

It’s the week of Thanksgiving! Are you ready? I wish I was, but there’s a lot to do and a heart to prepare. It’s been less than a week since we laid my dad to rest, and we’ve decided to spend this Thanksgiving at home. Sometimes, grief needs to be cocooned and cradled, and for me, that looks like being home. Honestly, it’s just too soon for me to bear going “home” for the holiday and not taking an apple pie or homemade bread to my dad’s, particularly when I FINALLY remembered that he loved apple pie and hated pumpkin pie. I confused it so many times and would always either take a pumpkin, or have to take both refusing to admit to him before that I had forgotten again. haha

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But, Thanksgiving will be a bit rough around the edges this year. I get to play hostess for the first time ever, which is something I will love to do the first year in our new home, but there will be an ache always conscious that someone is missing. But, last year, I learned something I found interesting, but this year is vital to my heart for Thanksgiving. I had been reading through the Bible, so I had passed on through Genesis and Exodus. I was aware of all the laws and requirements for worship for the Israelites, having just read through them again. Then, I ran across this:

With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving, he shall present his offering with cakes of leavened bread. Leviticus 7:13

Now, if you hadn’t just read through Exodus, that verse may not seem all that important to you. But, it is extremely important and all because of one word: leavened. The verse before that says that they would also need to bring unleavened bread (the pure and good), but then here we see for the first time that He was also requiring leaven this time. Leaven meant yeast, and yeast was strictly forbidden in any offerings made to the Lord with fire. In fact, He was so serious about the presence of yeast, that He insisted they throw out ALL yeast before celebration of the passover each year and not even have it in their homes. ummm….do you have any idea how difficult it would have been to get that yeast back? You had to grow yeast from yeast to have yeast….and you’re in the desert…and no one is supposed to have it. But, each year, they had to throw it out. Either, someone wasn’t all that honest about throwing ALL their yeast away, or they were going to great lengths for their bread. But, yeast bread vs crackers?

So, why was God anti-yeast? Because it was symbolic. Leaven symbolized sin or evil in the world. It’s deceit and hurt and pain and everything God doesn’t want for us. It’s cancer and divorce and yelling at loved ones in rage. And in the offerings, like the sin and other offerings, He required it out. Drop your issues, leave them out, repent, and come to me.

But for thanksgiving? He said, bring them in.

Don’t try to fix them. Don’t wash your tear streaked face and dust yourself off first. Bring it here. Because if you can only be grateful for the good, you’re cheating yourself in knowing Him more. Being thankful doesn’t mean you’ve got it all together. Being thankful means that sometimes, you hold it broken. You come before Him with your pain, and your loss, and your sin, and your fear, and you say, “You are still God. You are still good. and I will still follow you, in the harvest and in the drought.”

This Thanksgiving instead of styling our tables perfectly and putting on our masks so that we look like we aren’t broken this year in front of others (and our Lord), let’s just go to Him like we are, either with a harvest of happiness and blessing or with our arms cradling our broken hearts. It’s hard, oh my word, it’s hard. And I don’t know that I will be able to decide right here to offer my hurt with my blessings, but I can spend my week offering little bits at a time. But there is a reason God required it. He knows that we need to know He is gracious through it all. He is walking with us through it all. And through it all, He is good. And He has promised us so much. He’s promised that He does have a plan. He’s promised us that our pain and trials will produce perseverance and faith and so much more. And I want those things. So, I’ll take joy this year in knowing that He loves me and weeps with me and that hurt and pain is not what He wants for us. But, He’ll use that hurt and pain that comes in our fallen world, and transform it into something beautiful. And beauty from ashes may just be what I’m most thankful for this year.

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