If you've ever carried a Saran-wrapped, self-contained dinner of bland turkey breast and unseasoned green beans to a Thanksgiving meal, you’re among friends here.
If you have a medical condition that requires you to live a dairy-free, sugar-free, or legume-free existence, you already know how it feels to sit at a table and watch everyone else eat the foods that make you sick. You do that the rest of the year when you go out to dinner and on every occasion you’re with friends around a table. It’s not a new problem for you, but the holiday season tends to trigger all kinds of cravings. Shouldn’t you be allowed to feel unhappy biting into your pumpkin-free pumpkin pie?
It’s easy to let ourselves feel a bit grumbly when we don’t get to enjoy what everyone else seems to take for granted. Aren’t those feelings of quiet resentment justified?
Picture one of those small packets of yeast used to make rolls. You and I may not make as much bread as many of our peers, but you’ve probably heard it said that a little sprinkle of yeast provides leaven for a whole batch of dough. A little bit of bitterness? It will ingrain our Thanksgiving with a whole batch of ingratitude.
Over the past few days, you’ve probably worked on your shopping list and gathered ingredients for Thanksgiving Day, or you’ve typed up your list of dietary restrictions to send to those doing the cooking. As you made your preparations, did you stop and consider what grocery stories you were telling yourself?
Which of these thoughts is most likely to sneak into your kitchen unnoticed?
- “It's not fair that I have to eat a restricted diet.”
- “I'm missing out on all of the good foods.”
- “It'stoo hard to maintain this, especially during the holidays.”
- “It's only one day—a little won’t hurt me.”
- “I’d be more grateful if my life was different.”
Thoughts like these may seem benign as they sneak in and out of our minds, but they’re never harmless. Complaints are like brussel sprouts in cranberry sauce. They corrupt the dish. They keep us from enjoying a good thing.
The problem is that our grumbling always has a deeper root than we realize. When we express resentment over our circumstances, we’re often revealing what we believe about God.
- “It’s not fair” (Translation: God is good to others but not to me.)
Truth: God is good to us, even when we don’t taste and see His goodness. (Psalm 34:8)
How great is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you.
In the presence of everyone you have acted
for those who take refuge in you. (Psalm 31:19)
- “I’m missing out.” (Translation: God is withholding good things from me.)
Truth: God’s definition of “good” is so much better than ours. Our need draws us to Him, and He gives grace, joy, and the sweetness of His presence—better things than we could ever ask or imagine.
He did not even spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all. How will He not also with Him grant us everything? (Rom. 8:3)
No good thing does He withhold
from those who walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11 ESV)
- “It’s too hard.” (Translation: God won’t be able to help me with this.)
Truth: It is too hard for us to do on our own strength, but God is more than able to provide us strength and help us with self-control.
My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:19)
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. And may your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; He will do it. (1 Thess. 5:23–24)
- “A little won’t hurt me.” (Translation: I can disobey God and not face consequences.)
Truth: Sooner or later, the consequences of my choices will catch up to me.
But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death. (James 1:14–15)
- “I’d be more grateful if . . .” (Translation: I’d feel thankful if God changed my circumstances.)
Truth: If I’m not thankful with what I’m given now, I’d likely not be thankful for what I’m given in other seasons.
I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. (Phil. 4:11–12)
30 Ways to Thank God
This Thanksgiving, instead of complaining about what we can’t eat and what we don’t have, let’s thank God for His incredible generosity to us. Here are thirty ways to get started:
- I'm thankful to have enough to eat when so many around the world do not.
- I'm thankful for options to find ingredients: for grocery stores, farmers markets, and delivery services that drop food at our front doors.
- I'm thankful for family and friends who are fully supportive.
- I'm thankful for family members who are not.
- I'm thankful for containers that make transporting our portions possible.
- I'm thankful for recipes posted on Pinterest and tutorials recorded on TikTok.
- I'm thankful for food that nourishes our bodies.
- I'm thankful fruit and vegetables come in vibrant colors.
- I'm thankful for cooking techniques that make the same foods taste different.
- I'm thankful for those who offer their hands and time to help.
- I'm thankful for quiet kitchens we get to fill with prayer and praise.
- I'm thankful for the hope that what we're doing today is making a difference long term.
- I'm thankful for symptoms that are red flags when a food is harmful.
- I'm thankful for communities of people who understand our conditions.
- I'm thankful for the uniqueness of the redemptive health stories God is writing in each of our lives.
- I'm thankful that salvation doesn't come from sticking to a meal plan perfectly.
- I'm thankful for the discipline this is building in us.
- I'm thankful for the creativity it's inspiring in our cooking.
- I'm thankful that meal plans can be a launching pad to talk about God's goodness.
- I'm thankful that Thanksgiving is only scheduled on one day.
- I'm thankful that a holiday meal is about so much more than food.
- I'm thankful that holidays are about so much more than us.
- I'm thankful for a day set aside to thank God for His provision.
- I'm thankful that He is doing more than what we are able to see or feel.
- I'm thankful that when we get to heaven, we'll get to feast in His presence.
- I'm thankful for the joy in depending on providence, especially when it's hard.
- I'm thankful for God's forgiveness when I fail to be grateful.
- I'm thankful for God's grace that makes us love Him more.
- I'm thankful for His strength when we're too tired to keep going.
- I'm thankful there's no reason for us to grumble: we have the most generous God.