Thumb through most American family photo albums and you’re likely to come across memorable snapshots of Thanksgiving gatherings over the years. The photos may include family members crowded around a table, feasting on turkey and dressing with dollops of cranberry sauce. Pumpkin decorations probably dot the background, along with flashes of TV football images.
Pilgrims, turkeys, and halftime street football all come to mind when I think of Thanksgiving, but there are two other snapshots buried in my memories. One is of my grandfather in a hospital bed. A few days before Thanksgiving that year, I prayed, gripping his hand, begging him to receive Christ.
Another image is of a magazine I held in a doctor’s office one Monday before Thanksgiving while my curly-headed daughter squirmed beside me. I was battle-weary in our war with epilepsy. Medicines hadn’t worked, and doctors had talked about removing part of her brain. Her grueling treatment hadn’t yet delivered the hoped-for results. The glossy magazine pages I stared at are a foggy memory, but I distinctly remember the quiet surrender in my silent conversation with God.
Lord, I’m not asking for healing for her this time. I’ve asked hundreds of times all these years, and I know you’ve heard. For some reason, so far, you’ve said “no.” So I thank you because I know that you know what’s best. I don’t understand, but you’re my Father, and I know you love us. I trust you—even if it means a lifetime of seizures. You are enough.
Dr. Henry Morris III’s feature article this month reminds us that God sees our hearts. He points out the biblical emphasis of thanksgiving and reminds us that it encompasses so much more than simple gladness—confession, praise, and harmony with our Lord are all integral to sincere thanksgiving. And as Scripture consistently teaches, Dr. Morris encourages us to focus not merely on outward actions, but to embrace an attitude of thankfulness in our hearts.
In the stewardship article, Henry Morris IV also wisely points out that the scriptural charge to give thanks “was not to give thanks for everything—rather, we are to give thanks in everything” (see 1 Thessalonians 5:18).
I don’t know if my grandfather will greet me in heaven. I hope so, but his last words to me didn’t offer much encouragement. Still, I’m confident God heard my prayers, and I’m grateful that He has a purpose in everything.
And what about the other Thanksgiving image with my daughter at the doctor’s office? There’s another snapshot following that one—my doctor’s face when he said her EEG was clean and that she would never have another seizure. And you can imagine the looks on the faces of the rest of our family gathered around the Thanksgiving feast that year.
I still don’t understand why He hears and answers favorably in some situations and why other difficult circumstances seem to continue. But I know that we can trust Him. And we can give thanks while we wait to gather with Him around the ultimate feast in heaven.
* Jayme Durant is Associate Editor at the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Durant, J. 2012. Snapshots of Thanksgiving. Acts & Facts. 41 (11): 3.