Jump Start # 1982
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “in everything give things for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”
NOTE: With the Thanksgiving holiday, there will not be a Jump Start tomorrow or Friday. We wish you a wonderful time with your family and a thankful heart that appreciates all that the Lord has done for us.
Thanksgiving is upon us. The grocery stores are packed. The highways are crowded. College students have made their ways back home and there is an excitement in the air about being with family and loved ones. However, for some, the holidays are painful. They are dreaded. Home for the holidays isn’t a warm expression. Troubles in family, dysfunction, prodigals, unwilling to forgive, unable to forget, and mountains of guilt and shame have turned the holiday season into something to be tolerated if necessary, and avoided if possible. The end of the first Home Alone movie shows a father and his grown son coming together after being apart. Olive branches, love, forgiveness, second chances, are not only what God offers us, but it’s the very tools that we have to overcome bitter feelings, separations, and silence. Be the first to extend that open hand of love.
The holidays are also painful for those who have lost loved ones recently. So many memories flood around the holidays. The songs. The movies. The annual traditions. All of these can bring a flood of tears to hearts that have not healed.
Our verse today reminds us to be thankful. In everything give thanks. There are times when we may not feel very thankful. Rather than feeling blessed, we feel cheated. We look around and see all the families and all the happiness and we sit alone, missing someone who was very close to us. It’s hard to be thankful when one doesn’t feel like it.
Here are a few thoughts:
First, don’t isolate yourself from life. Elijah hid in a cave from Jezebel. The text tells us that he was “dwelling” in that cave. That word implies that he was planning on staying there. It was going to be his home. Put a mailbox out front, and rugs on the floor, because he had no intentions of leaving. God told the prophet to leave the cave. Being around others can be awkward, and even painful at the holiday times.
It’s not only awkward for you, but it’s awkward for others around you. No one knows what to say. “Do we talk about it, or not?” What if they bring up the person who has died? Do we switch the subject? It may be awkward, but it sure beats sitting alone and drinking cup after cup of misery. Get out of the house. Be around others. It’s healthy and it’s healing.
Second, tears are ok. You don’t want to drown the holidays with a real crying session, but it’s ok to shed some tears because of the memories and missing the one that is not there. But likewise, it’s ok to smile and laugh again. It’s not being disrespectful of the dead to enjoy the moments with others.
Third, healing takes time. Don’t rush things. There is no fast track to getting back to normal. In some ways, you’ll never be back to normal, because someone important is missing from your life. You’ll have a new normal. Realize that others are in pain as well. While a husband may be missing, it is also someone’s son, likely someone’s dad, even someone’s grandpa. Everyone deals with sorrow and grief differently. Men and women grieve differently. Some seem to move on quickly. Others seem to have stopped. It takes time. Being together shares a common bond.
Fourth, to our passage, count your blessings and be thankful. Rather than focusing upon what is gone from your life, think about the precious times you had together. God has been good to all of us. Be thankful. Be thankful that lives intersected. Be thankful for precious memories. Be thankful for lessons learned. Be thankful for prayers that were answered. Be thankful for grace and forgiveness. Be thankful for Heaven. We can be angry at life and at God or we can be thankful. Our choice. It will shape our attitude and it will color our moods.
As we gather to worship this Sunday, try to remember those who are hurting. Reach out to those who are in pain. Be an encourager. Don’t dare say cruel things such as, “You ought to be over that by now.” Be kind. Be sweet. Be like Jesus. Your actions can help a person heal and lift their hearts.
Be thankful. In everything be thankful. We need to be thankful even when we don’t feel very thankful.