So many people are getting excited to gather around the table and have delicious food together. They think about their favorite side dishes, desserts, football games, and family activities, and their hearts are happy. However, others think about family drama, previous negative experiences, worry about what that one relative is going to say this year, are preparing their stomachs for that specific dish they always feel guilty to try, and feel overwhelmed at the thought of Thanksgiving. Today, we are going to look at Bible verses to help with challenging families this Thanksgiving.
Psalm 107:1-2 says, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.”
We need to first work through our own identity if we are having issues being around difficult people. One great way to do this is by using gratitude to thank God for who He is. We can remember that even though “so and so” will be at the table, so will the Lord. He is good, He will never let us down. We can rest in knowing that His Holy Spirit is with us always.
His love is steadfast for us even when we have been the difficult ones, yet He redeemed us. When we think about all that He did for us, it can help us to see others through His eyes in knowing that we need to extend that same grace to them. He has already redeemed us from the greatest trouble, so we can go ahead and ask Him to protect us from trouble among family members. This does not mean conflict will not arise, but He can help provide a way out or a smooth way of showing His gospel love in the midst of a challenging situation.
Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
It is very easy to be self-centered at holidays. We want to be the first in line, we want the day to go our way, and we can easily get swept away in selfishness if we are not careful. Having an others mindset is what Christ would want. He calls us to love Him and love others. Instead of going in with a negative mindset towards family members, what if we thought about how we can extravagantly love them? How can we serve them? How can we listen and ask good questions about their lives? How can we model the love of Jesus to them? This is not only what the Lord calls us to as believers, but it likely softens any harsh attitudes and creates a sense of unity. Even if it is not received well though, Jesus underwent persecution, too, and He still chose to love.
Matthew 26:41 says, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
We know that the enemy desires chaos, disunity, and havoc to break out at Thanksgiving family gatherings. He wants everything to go wrong, he wants division and hurt, and he wants us to misrepresent Christ. We need to watch, and we need to pray. We need to have awareness and ask God to help us in the spiritual battle that is coming. We need to ask that He would help us to avoid temptation. This verse reminds us that even when we have the Holy Spirit in our lives, our flesh is weak. We know our triggers, and so does the enemy. We need to begin to pray and ask God to help us to put on His armor and to be watchful against the moments when we are tempted to say or do things that do not honor the Lord.
Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
When we feel anxious and wonder how something like a holiday is going to go, we can often be robbed of the peace the Holy Spirit desires to give to us. We need to remind ourselves to let Christ’s peace rule in our hearts. Are we allowing fear and worry to rule our hearts or Christ? We are called to peace as His children, and we can be so thankful for this gift from Him. Even if Thanksgiving does not go the way that we hope, we can know that we did our part to live out peace and rely on God.
James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Finally, we need to remember that one of the greatest passages on thankfulness is found in James 1, which is address trials in a believer’s life. He tells us to consider it pure joy when we face difficulties of many different kinds. It is in these moments when our faith is tested. Through the trials, God is refining us more into His image. We have the opportunity to be producing perseverance.
The Christian walk is not always easy, we might have a very challenging time with family at Thanksgiving, but it is also a God-ordained time to teach us and grow us into His image. We have the ability to produce good fruit by abiding in Him. That perseverance He is growing in us will be completed so we can become mature and complete in Christ. He reminds us that we lack nothing good from Him.
So if the turkey burns, or the kids fight, or you uncle says something hurtful, or there is an awkward family moment, remember that it is in these times when the Lord can do fresh work in us. He can take the trials and turn them into something beautiful. We can pray for His strength to not only face them with Him but to have gratitude in the midst of them.
Emma Danzey’s mission in life stems from Ephesians 3:20-21, to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. She is wife to Drew and mom to Graham. Emma serves alongside her husband in ministry, she focuses most of her time in the home, but loves to provide articles on the Bible, life questions, and Christian lifestyle. Her article on Interracial Marriage was the number 1 on Crosswalk in 2021. Most recently, Emma released Treasures for Tots, (Scripture memory songs) for young children. During her ministry career, Emma has released Wildflower: Blooming Through Singleness, two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, and ran the Refined Magazine. You can view her articles on her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com and check out her Instagram @Emmadanzey.