Post-Thanksgiving Heartache? You’re Not Alone

At this time last week, you had all of the ingredients required for the perfect Thanksgiving. Your menu was set. Your extended family arrived safely. Your prodigal child even said she’d come by with her kids. You pictured everyone laughing together around the table—but that’s not exactly how your holiday weekend went. 

Today, your kitchen is quiet. Your phone vibrates on the counter, and you’re not sure how to respond to the friend who wants to hear about your Thanksgiving. Do you tell her that your son didn’t show up, your daughter announced her divorce, or that you considered storming out of your own house midway through the meal? 

You silence your phone and open your empty fridge, wishing you still had leftovers to warm up. More than that, you wish you could fill a plate with all of the expectations you had before the weekend and, somehow, reheat the hope that now seems to have gone cold. 

An Antidote to Post-Thanksgiving Heartache 

If you’re sitting in a quiet house after a holiday weekend, scrolling through cute shots of friends’ families on social media,you may feel like you’re the only one facing deep disappointment. You’re not. It’s such a common problem that Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth decided to address it during a radio recording for the day after Thanksgiving last year. “I don’t know what your story is or what the details are,” she said in that program, “But I know there are a lot of people who are just feeling sad today. In many cases, the belly is full, but the heart is empty.” 

In that episode, she invited listeners to turn to Psalm 103. The passage begins like this: 

My soul, bless the LORD,
and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
My soul, bless the LORD,
and do not forget all his benefits. (vv. 1–2)

In this psalm, David reminded himself of who God is. He rehearsed God’s goodness to himself, knowing he needed to fix his attention on what God had already done. “Do not forget,” he wrote. Because he knew his soul was in danger of doing just that. 

You may have spent the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving remembering God’s blessings. You may have created a thankfulness list or filled out a set of “I choose gratitude” sticky notes. The holiday is over, but now is not the time to pack your lists away. They may contain the antidote to your disappointment. 

Finding Hope amidst Despair

A few weeks ago, I came across a video produced by Aviva Nossos Corações (Revive Our Hearts’ Portuguese outreach) in which Denise Deal, a woman who had every reason to despair over the empty spot at her dinner table, told her story. As I read the subtitles that translated Denise’s words from Portuguese, her native language, into English, I was surprised to see that the hope she experienced didn’t come from her family problems being resolved. 

Instead, she described what it looks like to forget the Lord’s benefits—her perspective was renewed when she began remembering what He had already accomplished in her life: 

The enemy is dirty, and he tries to blind our souls. He tries to erase everything God has already done and blind us with the pain of the moment.

I realized what was happening: how the enemy was taking my eyes off Jesus. I asked for forgiveness, and I started to pray. 

Denise was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. At age twenty-five, she married a young missionary, and she thought she would spend the rest of her life with him. They had three daughters, but after the youngest turned one, the unexpected happened. Denise and her husband separated. “That ended my world,” she said. 

Through a series of events, Denise discovered that her husband was someone completely different than who he appeared to be. After time apart and time in counseling, Denise thought her husband would return home and be part of her family again. Instead he filed for divorce so he could remarry.

Looking back on that season, Denise realized that Satan’s tactic to keep her in despair was to keep her so focused on her current situation that she’d be unable to remember God’s past faithfulness to her. 

As she began the slow process of soul-healing, God led her to a Revive Our Hearts study, and she began using truth from God’s Word to help her hope again. The process started as she adjusted her view of God . . . Denise had always believed that God was good, but she felt that He was far removed from her everyday life. Realizing that He was near and that He was able to carry her burdens changed everything.

I used to think that I had to be in control of all things—that I had to do everything. When I understood this truth, I was able to rest in the Father’s arms, and let Him rock me without fear of falling. I could just rest in His arms. 

It was a freeing moment to know for a fact that He is my loving God, and that He is with me, and that He is carrying me.In the moment that I surrendered, I was able to have true freedom.

Rejoicing in the Comfort of Christ 

The disappointments you faced over the weekend may or may not resemble the heartache Denise has faced, but the comfort she experienced in Christ can be yours today.

We have a source of wisdom, a source of strength, a source of life that is very great. The enemy wants to take that away by using our day-to-day problems.

We’re always going to have problems. There will always be sadness. There will always be struggles. There will always be difficulties. But the Word of God assures us that He is with us—Christ is the one who has control over our lives. Christ is present. Christ makes a difference in our lives.1

If David had lived on the New Testament side of history, I can imagine him proclaiming a similar message. “Bless the Lord, O my soul. Christ is in control. Christ is near.” 

Like David, and like Denise, remind yourself today of what the Lord has already done in your life. Break out your gratitude lists. Read them out loud until your heart believes the truth about God—and until the Lord reheats your hope. 

For years, Denise Deal and several women met together to pray for Revive Our Hearts resources to be available in Portuguese. They longed for other women to be exposed to the powerful truth of God’s Word. Today, thanks in part to their prayers and the support of ministry friends like you, the ministry of Aviva Nossos Corações is reaching women in Brazil with the beauty of the gospel. But there is a great need for more content in Portuguese and many other languages throughout the world. That’s where you can help! This #GivingTuesday we’re hoping to raise $150,000 toward international projects. Will you join us in praying and giving? And as a sweet bonus, when you give your #GivingTuesday gift you’ll be entered into a drawing for a Heaven Rules bundle and receive a copy of Randy Alcorn’s book The Treasure Principle

Deal, Denise, interview byRevive Our Hearts/Aviva Nossos Corações at Revive ’21, October 8, 2021, Indianapolis, IN.

About the Author

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep was working as a hospital teacher when God called her to join Revive Our Hearts as a staff writer. She serves remotely from Houston, Texas, where God sustains her through saltwater beaches, Scripture, and her local church. Katie's … read more …

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