Turkey doesn’t taste very good when the side dish is conflict. Any family knows that. If someone walks away from the table angry or offended, the turkey sits, rock solid, at the pit of our stomachs. We nervously drink water or wine, laugh uneasily, and our lips get dry. “Pumpkin pie, anyone?” says the peacemaker, known by some as that family member in denial.
But no one wants pumpkin pie and the holiday is suddenly tainted.
This year turkey comes with conflict. Not family conflict but conflict across the world – ancient conflict that seems never to have resolution. Both sides post pictures of dead and wounded children. Both sides scream foul. Both sides feel justified. Both sides lose.
And food sits solid, and my mouth goes dry, and my heart pounds for people I don’t know, have never met — people who are dying. Moms who are weeping over toddlers with gunshot wounds to their heads and sons who will never get married.
God is weeping. On this holiday that can be understood worldwide, that is at its heart not culture-bound, this holiday of giving thanks, there is a taint and God is weeping.
And I ask myself the questions that have been asked by many before me, and will be asked by many after me:
How do I rejoice with family while others are weeping over their dead?
How do I feast on turkey while others go hungry?
How do I bask in safety while others are drowning in rocket launches?
How do I enjoy good when others are surrounded by evil?
How do I not feel guilty when I have so much, others so little?
I sit quietly with a hot homemade latte, milk steamed to perfection. Psalm 27 blurs in front of my eyes – until I reach verse 13 and then suddenly the words come into focus. “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” I read on to verse 14 “Wait for the Lord, Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord”
And as I wait I slowly begin to deal with the “How” questions. I give thanks for my family and I pray mercy and comfort for those who are burying their dead; I anticipate the delight of turkey and stuffing even as I buy the homeless man coffee and breakfast; I bow in humble gratefulness for a warm and safe house and I beseech God that the rockets will stop, that a cease-fire will be achieved; I kneel in thanksgiving for the good that surrounds me, for common grace, and I pray for deliverance from the evil one; I ask for a proper response to my guilt and pray I will be prompted by God to serve those with less.
With grateful thanksgiving and humility I move forward — That is my ‘How’.
Enough is Enough!
Hatred through the torn land sweeps
while Isaac and Ishmael weep
as brother’s slaughtered by brother
each bent on destroying the other
branches of father Abraham’s tree
living up to Cain’s dreaded legacy
in heaven an anguished Adam cries
as helplessly he watches his sons die