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  • Chris Ridler

Gravy and gratitude

EATON RAPIDS – On Thanksgiving day of 2020, I cooked my first turkey. I spent the night before seasoning the turkey, injecting it with all the buttery goodness and spices that make my cajun palate happy. I woke up early, bagged the turkey, and placed it in the oven. I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I opened the oven 7 hours later...

My dreams of a beautifully roasted, cajun spiced turkey turned into a dry and chewy nightmare. In my first attempt at cooking a turkey, I had misread the recipe and cooked a thawed turkey at the required temperature and time of a frozen turkey. To say I was disappointed, discouraged, and frustrated would be an understatement. However, hope was not lost. My ever patient and caring wife came to my rescue with a hug, a smile, and some pretty amazing turkey gravy.

The gravy, not the turkey, became the star of the meal for our family that day! It was rich, flavorful, and served as a great topping on every side on the table. It even gave new life to my recent batch of turkey jerky! In just one short hour, I realized that my frustration had turned to contentment, my discouragement to joy, and my frustration to gratitude.

Pastoral ministry often comes with a variety of challenges and setbacks, many of which can become quite discouraging for the pastor and his family. Our best laid plans can often leave us feeling like that turkey; dry and burnt.

If we allow ourselves to focus solely on what didn’t work, we will miss the opportunity to be grateful for the things that did. Here are 5 ways you can turn bad circumstances into moments of gratitude this Thanksgiving season.

1. Start your day with a prayer of thanksgiving.

“It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night."

Psalm 92:1-2

Like drinking a good cup of coffee, gratitude is a spiritual caffeine. It focuses our attention away from our problems and toward Jesus Christ, the ultimate solution to them all.

2. Don’t become a victim to your circumstances.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

James 1:2-3

Every trial, every circumstance, is an opportunity to be refined into the image of Jesus. Take joy in the process, and enjoy the fruit of steadfastness when it comes.

3. When the main thing fails, be grateful for the one thing that didn’t.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18

You put in all that time and preparation. I get it. But there’s always a reason to rejoice. Don’t let a bad circumstance ruin a good opportunity to give thanks to God.

4. Don’t forget the bigger picture.

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

1 Corinthians 15:58

Last month, our church plant celebrated the baptism of a 66 year old friend that my wife and I had been praying would come to Jesus. Dozens of conversations, hours of prayer, and many tears took three years to bear fruit. Yet, every conversation, prayer, and tear made a difference. God is weaving small victories into Gospel testimonies. Be grateful for each step.

5. Be grateful for someone else’s success.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

Philippians 2:3

The imperfections in my leathery turkey only helped to highlight the utter perfection of my wife’s turkey gravy. Pride craves accolade, but humility gives it away.

May your thanksgiving be filled with lots of laughter, time with family, and a nice, juicy turkey to eat. If something falls apart, I pray that you will have a bit of turkey gravy to be thankful for.



Chris Ridler is the founding pastor of Living Hope Community Church, a church plant in Eaton Rapids, MI. He is also the 5th-8th grade Social Studies at Island City Academy in Eaton Rapids. He has been married to Becky for 20 years and has one son.


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