Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and while it is going to be a day of celebration and family fun for many of you, for others it will be a day of sorrow and loneliness. It is the first of several difficult holidays to come, and you dread it.

Holidays can be very hard when there are broken relationships among family members. Whether it is spouses battling with each other or children estranged from their parents, what would otherwise be a day of food and festivities will be full of heartache and sorrow.

There are no easy answers here. I have no magic wand to wave and I cannot give you anything that will make your loved ones kinder, and more cooperative. What I can offer you today is the knowledge that God understands your sorrow. The Bible teaches us that God is familiar with such distresses for He has experienced the sorrow of rebellious children (us), and broken relationships (with His people) since Genesis 3. He longs for His children to come to Him in obedience and surrender, to love Him and want to be in His presence. Jesus gives us this example regarding Israel:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Luke 19:41 (ESV)

Many a mom has felt this way about her wayward children.

As you go through Thanksgiving Day, pray for those who are difficult or hard to love. Try not to get drawn into difficult conversations, or entertain topics you know will raise the ire of those in the room. Even if they mock or taunt you, pray for them as you go about your tasks.

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44 (ESV)

Sometimes it seems as though our homes are war zones instead of the places of peace and tranquility we want them to be. Sitting around the living room with family members who are unbelievers can be very stressful. Remember that they don’t share your belief system and won’t be able to understand why you believe what you believe (1 Cor. 2:13-16).

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:24-26 (ESV)

Love them, serve them, be kind to them. Do your best to be Jesus with skin on. They may be much more receptive to your demonstrations of love than your words.

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:1:4 (ESV)

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21 (ESV)