How Do I Eat Turkey With a Side Dish of Conflict?

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’. 

Thanksgiving, One Thousand Gifts

 This beautiful poem comes from a friend who has given permission to share. A Prayer for Peace by Pari Ali

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

9 thoughts on “How Do I Eat Turkey With a Side Dish of Conflict?

  1. A good point. I think about that a lot. I found out that someone I used to know will be dying at any moment so yesterday I felt strange doing anything. Taking a nice warm shower felt almost greedy. Putting on my make up felt even worse. This lady is a loving mom and wife and she will just be gone. I know she will go to heaven but her family will miss her so. It’s hard to understand how to enjoy my life knowing her is coming to an end seemingly too early.


  2. Giving thanks to our Lord and Savior during daily devotions, carrying his light into the world, and lifting each other up should be emphasized and highlighted on Thanksgiving this way the food will not lay like a rock in anyone’s stomach.
    Wishing all a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving, Petra


  3. I give thanks for you, Marilyn, and for this heartfelt blog . . . and I give thanks for the Blessed Peacemakers among us all, and especially today for those who are working, even in this moment, to bring peace where there is tragic conflict . . . and for all those who are raising their hearts and voices in prayer for peace. May it be so.


  4. This morning I woke up thinking that God is weeping….He’s entering the grief of so many and he too cries with compassion and empathy. I cried thinking of God’s broken heart and the impossibly huge burden of sorrow that covers the world. Thank you for posting this piece on this particular day. Thank you for reminding us of those verses from Psalm 27:13-14. “I would have despaired unless…” Thank you Pari for capturing the senselessness of the grief in poetic form. Thank you God for bearing the weight of it all.


  5. Marilyn, I just LOVE your blog. You give public and meaningful voice to the inner voice inside so many of us, I imagine (at least me), a voice that I know I don’t have the talent to express in the ways you do. Bless you. Bless our world. Blessed Thanksgiving to all who celebrate.


  6. We can only give thanks because we know that somehow, in ways impossible for us to understand, God is working out His purposes, and those purposes are always good, and always for His glory. Thank you for reminding me of those amazing verses in Psalm 27. How many times I have turned to them, and through them, to the Lord, in the midst of pain and grief and suffering. Like you, I feel so much the suffering even of people I don’t know. Just watching the news, tears come to my eyes.
    Thank you, Pari for the beautiful words of your poem. I would so love to meet you.


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