Grace: When Thanksgiving is Unbearable

By Kathy Ferguson Litton

Thanksgiving, that day for saying “thanks”, may actually feel unbearable. When a holiday collides with grief, loss or more pain than blessings gathering round that turkey will take everything we have and then some.

Some years ago my family faced such a Thursday in November. That unbearable day was met by grace.

In the Christian culture it is far too easy to grow dull or numb to the depth and reality of Biblical terms. We throw them out casually but somehow our minds and hearts disconnect to the powerful, very real daily implications. Old words can take on new meaning. Grace has for me.

My late husband in a sermon series some years ago crafted this definition of grace:

The disposition, pursuit and provision of God toward fallen men, whereby He freely offers Himself as a sufficient resource for their every need.

Yes, a mouthful yet a full rich picture of the grace of God. He is a sufficient resource for every need. God by His grace empowers us to do things we would not otherwise have the strength to do on our own.

My first understanding of grace came with my own childhood salvation. Jesus Christ was a sufficient Savior to provide for my need to be made right with God. I did not have in my strength the ability to be right with the God who created me. “Saved by grace” is the entry point of relationship with God. Yet, God’s grace does not end there. His grace to BE the resource for every need is His perpetual disposition to us.

Ten years ago on Thanksgiving my “every need” was recent widowhood. At our Thanksgiving table was an empty plate and empty chair that left us devastated, broken-hearted and grieving. It was a meal that was nearly unbearable to my heart. I remember it well. Does God offer Himself as a sufficient resource for the common human experience of death that seems to come far too soon? He does. His tender care, His mercy, the hope of Heaven, and His strength in the midst of our weaknesses was more real to that 45-year old widow than I can communicate. With tears in our eyes, He was enabling us to walk, even if feebly so.

On this Thanksgiving I look back at the ten years that have swiftly passed. His grace, His sufficient resource for my every need, has not failed; even in dark days of grief, financial uncertainty, single parenting, critical decisions, disappointment and loneliness. By grace, He empowered me to do things I did not have the strength to do on my own.

You may be facing an unbearable Thursday. Even now you feel a sense of dread. The heart of God hovers over your Thanksgiving table-you can feast upon His grace.

Grace it really is amazing.

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. — 2 Corinthians 12:9

Published January 1, 2012

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Kathy Ferguson Litton

Kathy lives in Mobile, Alabama, with her husband Ed, pastor of Redemption Church. Both lost former spouses in car accidents, and God uniquely gave them new love and life together in 2009. Kathy enjoyed 26 years of life and ministry alongside Rick Ferguson. She has three children and ten grandchildren. Presently she serves as Director of Planting Spouse Development.