Thanksgiving is here again and for many families there will be great joy gathering together around a meal. Our entire family (kids, sales find grandkids, nurse grandparents, doctor brother, sister-in-law and nephew & fiancée) will gather in Bakersfield, but in order for this to happen some will have to travel a bit to get here. They will be coming from L.A., San Francisco, and Idaho.
We are not always able to be together like this because our kids have other families to spend time with and traveling is expensive, especially during the holidays. When they can’t be here then Thanksgiving seems a bit lonely without them. Over the years when this occurred we invited others to join us and had a good time with them, but, to be honest, it was never quite the same.
I occasionally wonder what it would be like not to have any family at all with whom to celebrate Thanksgiving. I had a friend from college, who lost all of her family in a plane crash. She lost her mom, dad, sister, and grandparents. What were her Thanksgivings like? I wish I had kept in contact with her; I should have, what was I thinking? She could have joined us. She could have been a part of our family celebrations.
I don’t know which side of the fence you are on this Thanksgiving, whether you are bursting at the seams with family or feeling rather lonely. Either way, look for that one who doesn’t have a family, and make them a part of yours this holiday. And if you are that person who has nowhere to go, don’t give up, don’t give into your loneliness, and don’t give into your depression even if no one reaches out to you…
For the lonely this holiday I leave you with this story I ran across the other day.
There is a story of a woman who had incurred many sorrows in her lifetime: parents husband, children, all measures of security and wealth were gone. In her immense grief one evening before going to bed she prayed that the Lord would take her too, even though there was still a great deal to accomplish for the God while on earth. As she slipped into a deep sleep she began to dream. In the middle of it she found herself in heaven. She first saw her husband and ran to him with eager joy, expecting a glad welcome. But no answering joy shone on his face–only surprise. “How is it that you are here?” he asked. “They didn’t say that you were to be sent for today; I didn’t expect you for some time yet.” With a bitter cry she turned from him to seek her parents. But instead of the tender love for which she was longing they had a similar response too. As she pulled away, she said, “I’ll go to my Savior, He will welcome me if no one else does.” When she saw Christ, there was infinite love in His look, but His words throbbed with sorrow as He said: “Child, child, who is doing your work down on earth?” At last she understood: she had no right yet to be in heaven, her work on earth was not finished. And then she awoke to find it was all but a dream, but a dream that seemed to change her from then on. For she found her grief gone, and in its place a new desire and resolve to do all she could for God while on earth.
“Finish your work, then you can sit down on God’s heavenly hill,
With all your loved ones to your heart’s fill.
Finish you work and go in peace, for in doing so the battle is won.
God saying, ‘Well done! Well done!'”
At this Thanksgiving pray for those you know who have no place to go, and if it is too late to do anything about it now, then think about Christmas it’s only a few weeks off.
And if you are the one who ends up alone with nowhere to go, then do the best you can to have a joyous Thanksgiving of your own
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. Invite those like yourself to be a part of it.
Perhaps the greatest thanks any of us can give God this Thanksgiving is the inclusion of others. For when we do, we really include Him.
“…Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20: 35