The Road to Giving Thanks


Thanksgiving is coming with a gobble here and gobble there. To my chagrin, I admit, I have to force the meal down. I think I’m the only American in history who doesn’t like turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, or stuffing. But I’ve discovered that cranberry sauce is a good cover so I apply that liberally.

But even for those who love the traditional Thanksgiving fare and willingly run back for seconds, there may be a lump in your throat as you are asked to think about, and maybe even share, what you are thankful for. Maybe you’ve got a great meal in front of you, family and friends around you, but there’s a nagging pull of pain in your heart that creeps up and steals your joy.

Usually it is a loss or need of something…money, relationship, employment, health, a death, even a dream or a hope. The stats tell us that our most treasured national holidays are a time of sadness and depression for many people. Perhaps there is something we have forgotten…

We’ve kept the tradition of Thanksgiving, but we have neglected another day that our forefathers practiced with great regularity. When loss or need came upon the Pilgrims in the New World they did something that no one talks about anymore. They set aside a day…to fast.

Whoa, I know. In an age of unprecedented plenty it’s hard to conceive how we could not eat for a whole day, much less what it might do to help us. I found a great New York Times article written in 1896 that tells us why:

“When the Pilgrim fathers came over from England they brought with them the old custom of appointing special days for fasting and prayer. If there was any great object for which they were struggling, a day was set apart that all might join in the prayer to the Almighty for strength and wisdom.”

The article goes on to say that even by 1896 the custom of fasting was beginning to be lost. Most will say, good riddance!  But God has endowed prayer and fasting with special power. It’s for those times when you’ve got to get God’s attention. If the holidays only remind you of some great struggle in your life, it could be time to employ this ancient tradition to reach Heaven. Let go of the earthly things, like food, and pour your heart out to God. You never know what He might do for you. He could fulfill your need, He might share wisdom so you can see more clearly, He could give you peace and take away the pain. We don’t know how He might heal us unless we take the prescribed medicine.

I know this isn’t a very typical Thanksgiving post. I wasn’t expecting it to go in this direction, but here it is. Maybe it’s a nugget for someone. I pray your Thanksgiving Day is blessed!

James 8:8a …Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Psalm 34:18…The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

4 responses

  1. Niki:
    I like your comments about fasting a lot. But some questions: How long and how serious? Jesus fasted for 40 days. Francis of Assisi almost would have done the same but on the last day ate a crust so that it would not appear that he was immitating Jesus. Of course, if thirty days is the goal one whould have to drink some water. Thirty days without water would result in death. Catholics used to fast from midnight before receiving the Eucharist. But now it has shrunk to one hour and even that is not preached. Lent has also shrunk so much as to be hardly recognized. The Arabs go for all hours of daylight, including water. I think that 24 hours should be possible omitting water also. What do you think?


    • Hey Dad, thanks for your comment 🙂 I think if you’re going to set aside “a day” like the Pilgrims did, that could be interpreted as 24 hours or sunrise to sunset. I believe you taught me that the word “breakfast” came from “breaking the fast”. Love you 🙂

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