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A Craft Thanksgiving img 

A Craft Thanksgiving

    Posted Nov 22nd, 2017  

    Thanksgiving is such a great time to take a break from our “normal” and focus on what is most important. Going to church, spending time with family, eating large meals, taking naps, are all a part of celebrating what God has done for us. Unfortunately, some thanksgivings are not a Hallmark special.

    Many people find themselves having to deal with hard issues in what should be one of the best times of the year.  As a pastor, I hear of folks who have received a bad report from the doctor, horrible family issues, financial disasters, etc.  There are sometimes too many to even list. How do we remain thankful, in the midst of hard circumstances? 


    Being Thankful— No Matter What

    A Letter of Encouragement from Pastor Loren Craft

    "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV 

    I remember a Thanksgiving season when Katie and I were definitely in the low-income bracket. We were young pastors and newly married. It had been a tough week and Katie had made a great dinner including one of my favorite dishes this time of year, green bean casserole. She was excited as she began to bring the meal to the table, expecting that it would brighten my day. Unfortunately for Katie, I was not in one of my best moods. I was stressed about ministry and concerned about how we were going to pay the bills that particular month. Katie brought out the last dish and took a seat. I looked at the spread and thanked her. What a blessing! 

    Then, I looked at the green bean casserole. There was missing something. Green bean casserole should always include three important ingredients; the beans, mushroom soup, and the golden fried onions to top it off. The onions were missing. “This looks great, but where are the fried onions?” I asked. Katie answered softly and kindly, “I didn’t have enough money to buy the onions”.  That was the last straw.  I immediately began to complain to the Lord out loud in the middle of our dining room. My daughter, who was only one at the time and my lovely bride watched on as I began my little tirade.

    “We serve in the ministry day after day, we give everything and now we don’t even have a dollar and thirty-nine cents to buy fried onions?” Katie began to cry. Yes, I was being a jerk. I wasn’t mad at Katie, I was frustrated with God. I wish I could say that as a pastor I was mature in all things and didn’t complain, but that wasn’t me. I went on for a while until my rant was interrupted by a knock on the door. My first thought was, “who could this be at this time of night?” My second thought was, “I hope they didn’t hear me.” 

    Katie and I quickly walked to the door and turned on the porch light. We could see through the pained glass that it was some close family friends; we considered them to be another set of parents. We invited them inside right away and asked them to come sit down. “No, we don’t want to take a lot of your time, we just have something we wanted to drop-off.  As you know, my father passed away a few months ago and we received our inheritance just this last week. We both heard from the Lord that we were supposed to give you a gift.” 

    They pulled out a white nondescript envelope and slipped it into my hands. They asked that we wait to open it till after they had left.  We exchanged hugs and kisses, and then they left as quickly as they had come.  Katie and I sat back down at the dining room table to open the envelope. I peeked inside and found multiple one hundred dollar bills; well over a thousand dollars in cash. We sat at the table and just wept. I heard the Lord’s voice quietly speak to my spirit, “I’ve got you”. 

    Man did I feel stupid. My immaturity had gotten the best of me, and I was embarrassed. Right then and there, at the same table that just moments before I had raised my voice and told God how wrong He was, I repented.

    The fact is God knew we were poor. God knew that I was tired and scared about the future. God knew that I was going to complain and throw a tantrum. What I didn’t know was that God had my back. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to have what I want when I want it, but it does mean that I will have what I need when I need it. And what that looks like is up to God. 

    Philippians 4:4-7 says,

    Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    Sometimes it can be hard to rejoice in our circumstances, but we should always rejoice in the Lord. Instead of complaining to the Lord for what we don’t have, we need to bring Him our requests remembering to thank Him for all that He HAS done. If we are honest with ourselves, our prayers can sometimes be more like complaints than they are requests. I know that I was complaining about not having fried onions for my green bean casserole; it was a complaint, not a request. When we bring EVERYTHING to God with thanksgiving, we receive perhaps something far greater than anything physically tangible; we receive God’s peace. A peace that is beyond human understanding. A peace that guards our heart and our mind.  In other words, He protects our thoughts and emotions. 

    Look at what Paul says in later in the chapter, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Phillipians 4:8). Make the choice to dwell on what is going right in your life. And then, if something is praiseworthy, take a moment to give God the glory. I can guarantee you that your contentment will turn into thankfulness as you begin to rehearse all that Jesus has done in your life up to this point.

    Every Thanksgiving I make it a point to go to the grocery store to purchase fried onions for our Thanksgiving dinner; not because I have to, but because it reminds me of God’s faithfulness.

    I choose to remember what God has done and how He supplied more than we needed that fateful Thanksgiving night years ago; because if God cares about my silly fried onions for my green bean casserole, how much more does He care about the bigger issues of my life? 

    What are your big issues? Have a conversation with God. He’s waiting to hear from you.

    Blessings,

    Pastor Loren Craft